Espiner on Labour

Colin Espiner blogs on Labour’s woes:

It’s recess here in Parliament. is off on the West Coast “reconnecting with the community”, which is a nice way of saying it’s trying to find out why heartland New Zealand hates them so much.

Maybe that’s a little strong. Dislikes intensely. The West Coast went National for only the second time in 140 years last election, the last time being the rout Labour suffered in 1990.

And other strongholds such as Napier, New Plymouth and Auckland Central have also fallen.

Phil Goff should be an interim leader only, and would be if there was any serious challenger. But at this stage, there simply isn’t.

This is why I have money on iPredict that Goff will stay Leader during 2009. There simply is no alternative. His problems will arise when alernatives have developed.

And after a solid start to the year, it seems that Labour has lost its way somewhat. Its performances in the House have been lacklustre to say the least. Goff hasn’t been able to land a single blow on John Key in weeks.

Last week was particularly embarrassing. On superannuation, Goff seemed completely unable to hit the nub of the issue about National’s plans to cut contributions to the fund – to the point where John Key ended up both asking the question himself and then obligingly answering it.

Goff was a very competent Government Minister answering questions. But asking them is a different skill.

The only ones who can still needle National are Michael Cullen (normally on procedural issues, however, which aren’t much interest to anyone outside the Beltway), who’s off soon anyway, and Trevor Mallard, who’s – well, just annoying, really.


It’s going to be a long road back, though, I think. There is talent further down the ranks, such as Jacinda Arden, Darren Hughes, Kelvin Davis, Clare Curran, Stuart Nash, and Maryan Street. But it will take time for them to gain enough experience to be genuine leadership contenders.

Cunliffe and Jones are the likely challengers at some stage, but neither option is seen as viable at this stage. In the not too distant future Little will be an option also.

I would not be surprised if one day Hughes rises to a leadership role – maybe Deputy. Street is a likely Deputy at some stage also. Colin has identified some of the new talent, but has missed out Grant Robertson who is also well thought of.

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