Interesting columns by John Armstrong and Fran O’Sullivan this morning. Firstly Armstrong:
Pained as Labour must feel right now about heeding any advice from Mike Moore, the party should not dismiss this week’s diatribe out of hand. The basic thrust of Moore’s message to Labour in his opinion piece in Wednesday’s Herald was that the party is crowding out its core messages with its fixation on John Key.
Labour believes if it can destroy Key, it will puncture National’s support in the polls and make next year’s election potentially winnable.
It is as simple as that. And Labour believes the strategy is working.
Again, Moore weakened his own argument by inferring Clark might follow Sir Robert’s precedent of using information in Security Intelligence Service files for political purposes.
That is ridiculous and Moore conceded as much by subsequently citing a far more pertinent example – Phil Goff’s use of supposedly confidential Ministry of Foreign Affair notes to make public Don Brash’s celebrated “gone by lunchtime” remark about New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy.
Moore was right. That episode was a telling sign that Labour now has fewer scruples than it might have had in the past.
This is best illustrated by Muldoon’s hounding of Colin Moyle – perhaps the ultimate smear job. It is unimaginable that Clark would treat a National MP in similar fashion – another reason why Moore’s claim she is morphing into Sir Robert is a nonsense.
Yet, Labour MPs had no compunction about taunting Don Brash in Parliament about his extra-marital affair before it became public knowledge.
The campaign against Key will continue in a more subtle fashion for now.
But it will continue because of the polls, because Labour believes it will face an unsympathetic media in election year while Key will get an easy ride, and because it lives in perpetual fear of being ambushed in the election campaign, like it was with Corngate in 2002.
But above all, the campaign will continue because Labour has convinced itself that it will work.
Anyone who lays public siege to Helengrad runs the risk they will find themselves the subject of brutal retaliation.
The prospects of a palace revolt led by Labour’s dwindling centre-right will just get Clark’s and Labour Party president Mike Williams’ backs up further. The only way Goff will succeed ahead of the election is to persuade Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen to lead a deputation to persuade Clark to step aside. In the meantime if Moore continues to scratch Clark’s wounds she will fire back.
Clark patiently rebuilt Labour, with the aid of Williams, into a tight political machine. They made sure the selection process was geared to ensure that only MPs of “left persuasion” who would stay loyal to Clark would get into Parliament.
The upshot is the Labour caucus is stacked with former unionists and severely lacking in business people, farmers and others who would provide more balanced views, or even dare to challenge Clark.
This means Goff must persuade Labour’s left he has the right stuff to ensure the party can maintain mainstream support. If the polls continue to move against Clark, the prospect of losing their parliamentary positions and salaries will concentrate MPs’ minds.
The article concludes saying that most think Goff does not have the steel balls to take on Clark, and time will prove they are right. I agree – there is no real prospect he would ever challenge.
Mind you Goff has now officially denied he is after Clark’s job, and the rule from Yes Minister is that nothing is ever true until it has been officially denied 🙂