The latest story on the Labour leadership makes it quite clear someone is telling lies.
Now I think most would agree that a blog post from Matthew Hooton on the Labour leadership should not be taken as automatically accurate. Of course neither does it mean it is automatically wrong either.
But Trans-tasman reported on Thursday :
Meanwhile Goff questioned his front bench colleagues last week as to whether he should resign as leader. The questioning took place at a pre-caucus meeting of the front bench group. It followed publication of at least three opinion polls showing Labour slipping heavily in electoral popularity.
Caucus sources says the response to the question was muted, with one senior MP saying
“it’s up to you Phil.” There was no disagreement. The catalyst for a leadership discussion is the realisation if Labour slips further respected list MPs like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash may lose their places.
This has greater credibility. It references to a specific meeting on a specific date, involving a specific group of people. It refers to multiple sources and uses a quote from one of the sources, who by definition must be a frontbench MP or a senior Labour staffer.
Then we have today’s Dom Post:
An increasingly angry Labour leader Phil Goff is again facing leadership speculation after conflicting accounts over a meeting with some of his closest and most senior colleagues.
He furiously denied reports in political newsletter Trans-Tasman that he asked his frontbench MPs whether he should quit.
Several frontbench MPs backed Mr Goff, either describing the report as “bollocks” or insisting the discussion never took place. Others refused to comment.
But one senior Labour MP said the conversation did happen. “[Phil] did consult the front bench over whether he should go.”
Now I don’t think anyone really thinks that both Trans-tasman and Tracy Watkins are simply inventing stories and specific quotes.
This leaves two possibilities:
- Goff did consult the front-bench on whether he should go, and is now lying about it
- A member of the Labour front-bench has invented this story and fed it to the media in order to destabilise Goff
It goes without saying that neither scenario is particularly good for Goff and Labour.
I suspect the conversation did happen. I don’t judge Goff harshly for lying and denying it, because it is a reality of politics that you have to deny stuff like this, otherwise you are fatally wounded. Goff probably never imagined that one of his front bench colleagues would leak that he asked his senior colleagues if he should quit.
One Labour source has described the polls as “OK Corral” territory for Mr Goff, with a number of well-respected MPs set to lose their seats should Labour’s support drop any further.
But another MP said Mr Goff’s leadership should be safe – even though there were probably the numbers to roll him should any of the contenders put their hands up.No one wanted the leadership because it was such a “a poisoned chalice” this close to the election.
This sounds like at a minimum three different Labour MPs are talking to the media about Goff’s leadership, so I don’t think one can blame all of this on Matthew Hooton. What is interesting is the assertion that if someone stood, they would have the numbers to roll Goff.