Tensions within Labour

This has the potential to get interesting. Firstly Goff does a further u-turn on the foreshore and seabed:

Opposition leader has indicated is backing away from its stance of allowing customary title of the foreshore and seabed to be awarded to iwi that meet the criteria involved.

Labour’s submission to the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act earlier this year recommended the legislation be amended to allow customary title, rather than simple redress and protection of customary rights. …

Asked to clarify whether that meant its position on customary title had changed, Mr Goff told the Herald he remained open to considering it but would first have to be convinced it was necessary.

So Phil Goff is advocating a position different to Labour’s own submission on the law. As expected, this is causing some tensions within Labour, according to Vernon Small:

Labour leader Phil Goff will be asked to explain his controversial “nationhood” speech at next week’s party caucus meeting.

Discontent, especially on the Left of the party, has centred around Mr Goff’s comments on the foreshore and seabed policy.

A Leader who has to “explain” a speech to Caucus has some problems.

Labour sources said Wellington Central MP questioned the speech at last week’s caucus meeting. He was again expected to be prominent among those expressing concerns at next Tuesday’s caucus meeting.

It is significant that Grant is leading the charge, for several reasons.

The first is that Grant will just be doing his job as a local MP. Wellington Central is a very liberal seat, and Labour activists there are very liberal. I have no doubt Grant will have been bombarded by supporters asking what the fuck is going on.

The second is that Grant is often (correctly) described as a future Labour Party Leader. Despite being first term, he is a heavyweight in caucus. Having Grant criticise a speech by the Leader, is not the same as having George Hawkins criticise it.

The third is that Grant is clearly from the leftish faction in Caucus. Now under Helen Clark factional warfare almost ended, and the factions were informal and flexible. But Goff’s speech and the reaction to it, may be the start of the factions becoming a bit more significant.

Sources said the party’s ruling council had already asked Mr Goff to explain the speech on Saturday .

“There will be questions at caucus on Tuesday,” one senior MP said.

The party’s council is almost exclusively from the liberal left side, so this is no surprise.

But another discounted a move against Mr Goff’s leadership, saying the concern should not be read as a sign of “deep divisions” in the party.

Oh absolutely it is premature to start talking of moves against the leadership. Such a possibility would not be considered until late 2010 at the earliest, and even then only if the polls remain dire after the 2010 budget.

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