Fessing up to an unhealthy preoccupation with Nanny State might buy Phil Goff a few brownie points with bored news media looking for a headline at Labour’s first post-election defeat conference tomorrow.
But seeking redemption for such egregious – but ultimately inconsequential – policies like trying to force Kiwis to adopt eco bulbs, or, switch to barely dribbling shower heads, or, stop smacking kids is sublimely absurd.
Only in New Zealand could a leading politician fall prey to the erroneous belief that this factor alone cost the ruling Labour Government and its cronies the last election.
They were a factor, but I agree not the dominant one.
The Labour leader could start with offering up an apology for his party’s savage assault on democracy, the Electoral Finance Act, which it had the gall to steamroller into existence after being caught red-handed ripping off the taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund its 2005 election campaign.
To be fair to Goff he has admitted they got parts of the EFA wrong and voted to repeal it. But an apology at his party’s conference would carry sincerity.
He could follow that with another mea culpa for an even more egregious matter – Labour’s economic policies – which had the effect of driving this country into recession fully nine months ahead of the Lehman Brothers collapse which heralded the beginning of the global financial crisis.
I think Fran will be disappointed here.
And the three-ring circus called Winston Peters that Labour continued to inflict on New Zealanders from ministerial heights long after journalists exposed the extent of his secret big-business backing.
This for me is probably the most important one. Their defence of Peters was disgraceful, and voting against the Privileges Committee recommendations was a shameful act. I don’t think one could ever take Labour serious on issues of electoral funding transparency after their pandering to Winston.
And Helen Clark’s con act that positioned New Zealand as a leader on combating greenhouse gas emissions when it did nothing on that score till weeks before losing power.
And gross emissions relative to 1990 under Clark rose faster than the US under Bush.
Goff’s real challenge is to break out of the robotic style that has become his political leitmotif; stop contaminating his leadership style by authoring personal attacks on other MPs which fail at the authenticity stakes. And to stop playing situational politics with the US on defence issues like Afghanistan and get back into the main game.
He should get National to a climate change deal that will ensure a real reduction in emissions rather than simply allowing Kiwis to trade out of their responsibilities – and take some political credit.
It will be interesting to see if Goff can deliver his caucus on such a deal. I am unsure that he will be able to.