Looking back at the chain of events, I am staggered by the degree of either incompetence or arrogance that Goff has showed. Let’s go back to the Q+A interview with John Key.
GUYON Did you brief Phil Goff?
JOHN Phil Goff was briefed, yeah, that’s right. I personally didn’t brief him, but my understanding from the director of SIS, Warren Tucker, is that he was briefed and he was shown the same note and report that I saw.
Now let us imagine you are Phil Goff, and you hear the PM saying that. And also let us be generous and presume that Goff honestly doesn’t recall being told about it by the SIS Director in March.
Wouldn’t your first thought be, on what basis would the PM say you have been briefed. Well John Key actually said the magic words “my understanding from the director”.
So at this stage, your options are:
- The PM has lied about what the SIS Director said to him
- The SIS Director has lied to the PM
- The SIS Director believes he has briefed you
Now wouldn’t anyone with a shred of intelligence, decide to check with the SIS Director before mouthing off in the media how upset he is at the PM and the SIS?
I can’t imagine how his staff didn’t stop Goff from insisting he had not been briefed, without checking with the SIS first. Maybe they tried to, and Goff would not listen.
But he didn’t. In fact he boasted how he had told off the SIS Director by text message. And then the SIS Director came and met Goff, and pointed out he had briefed him in March. And I bet your bottom dollar there is a file note recording this, taken at the time. which is why Goff them acknowledged he had been briefed.
But here is where there is such a key difference between Goff and Key. Key didn’t handle the initial response to the Israeli story that well. And when asked about it, he acknowledged:
So, look, at the end of the day, I mean, I realised by the morning, you know, the impression that I had left wasn’t sustainable. If I replayed the video and did it all again I’d probably start where I ended six hours later, but it comes with the territory. Sometimes you don’t get it perfectly right in the first moment.
So Key is willing to acknowledge he could have handled something better. Note that unlike Goff he didn’t actually say anything untrue. He didn’t claim others were wrong, when in fact only his memory was wrong. But still Key is willing to concede he could have handled things better.
While Goff is the absolute opposite. He has been caught out clearly wrong. He said was not aware of the allegations, and he was. He said he was not briefed, and he was. He said the PM was mouthing off without checking the facts, and in fact it was Goff who mouthed off and was wrong.
But will Goff admit in anyway he is wrong or stuffed up? Nope, not one bit. And it is this arrogance which is why Goff is massively unpopular, and the converse is why Key is popular.