David Lewis blogs:
Phil Goff knows what Graham Henry is feeling. Labour is playing politics the way the All Blacks played the Springboks in Bloemfontein. They are trailing by some margin and getting desperate, forcing the play and throwing silly passes.
Not a bad analogy.
There is also, however, a strategic issue which Goff needs to address – Labour’s relationship with the Maori Party. …
The continued sniping between Labour’s Maori MPs and the Maori Party is hardly the secure foundation upon which to build a secure working relationship. It’s not helped by Labour’s Maori MPs’ discomfort at the way their Maori Party counterparts outshine them with verve and flair.
While I think the relationship with National is strong at the moment, I have always said that long-term they have more policy synergy with Labour. But politics is not just about policy – trust and relationships count.
Take the furore in Maoridom over the government’s Auckland governance proposals – and the removal of any Maori representation. If there was an issue heaven sent to Labour’s Maori MPs to seize and lead, it was this. What happened? The Maori Party managed to rewrite the Cabinet Manual and head the opposition to the plans despite being part of the government that introduced them. Labour’s Maori MPs did get some publicity; but that was after being spotted chowing down in a McDonalds while the hikoi was inching up Queen St.
Heh I had forgotten that.
Take also the proposal to allow Maori to choose a flag to fly over the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. Labour’s Shane Jones says the hui being held to discuss which flag should fly ‘reeks of shallowness and insularity’. In fact, the process is being led – harmoniously and sincerely – by Pita Sharples. It will result in, most likely, the tino rangatiratanga flag being flown from the bridge beside the New Zealand flag on Waitangi Day. And with scarcely any angst. Remarkable. And commendable to anyone with a vaguely liberal bent.
Labour all too often snipe at everything, and miss the big picture. Not just on this issue.
Designing a framework for a more harmonious relationship won’t necessarily be easy but it can be achieved. It might mean some sort of non-aggression pact outside election campaigns, when both parties will heartily contest the Maori vote.
It’s certainly not beyond Goff to come to an arrangement. It would be a welcome diversion after the travails of recent weeks.
The chance of Labour winning the next election, without support from the