Today’s Trans-Tasman looks at what is happening:
Key is sharp, incisive and confident, English supplies the intellectual grunt and the political know-how. Both in their different ways inspire others to work with them as a team. The opinion polls offer dismal reading for Opposition parties, with Labour crashing to 28% and the Greens to 6%. Only about half of those sampled were aware Phil Goff is now Labour leader, and only 13% Annette King is deputy leader. With Helen Clark actively planning an early departure from Parliament, and speculation Michael Cullen will leave in the next two months likely to be confirmed, Labour is threatened with an identity crisis.
To be fait to Goff, I suspect more than half of NZers know who he is. They just don’t know he is now the Labour Leader.
Part of Goff’s problem is he became Leader so quickly – at the time Key was putting his Government together. So his ascension got sant media coverage. If Clark has held off until around now, then Goff would probably have got extensive coverage of his rise to the leadership – exclusive TV interviews, magazine profiles, newspaper stories etc.
But Goff’s problem goes beyond the initial lack of profile. His problem is his own supporters are not talking about him.
The front page of The Standard does not mention him once. In fact there is only one post in the Phil Goff category. Niw this is not any criticism of The Standard, just a reflection of the reality that Goff is not connecting with anyone at the moment.
Personally though, if I was Goff, I wouldn’t even try to build up profile at this stage. The next few months are still Government honeymoon. He should concentrate on getting around the country talking to key groups, starting to think about the direction he wants to take Labour in, and then start selling that in the second half of the year.