Goff goes blue collar

Last updated 13:03 20/11/2009

Labour leader Phil Goff seems to be trying out a new swagger this week.

It's a kind of blue-collar, leather jacket look that is about as far away from Helen Clark as it is possible to get. And who knows, it might just work.

Goff's seized on the fuss over the proposed hike in ACC fees for motorbikes, addressing the protest rally at Parliament this week and rediscovering his own love of motorcycles, mentioning "my farm bike'' and "my road bike'' every chance he gets.

Judging by the number of bikers who descended on the capital, which security guards say was the largest protest action here since the hikoi over the foreshore and seabed, National might just have misread this issue.

There are early signs of a backtrack from ACC Minister Nick Smith, who is now saying maybe the fees won't go up by as much as first proposed.

But it's certainly a good issue for Goff to join in on, and reminds me of the attempt by Labour to raise road user chargers on truckies a year or so ago.

Of course, selective amnesia is an essential prerequisite in politics and Labour's leader also seems to have conveniently forgotten the former government's previous approach to affirmative action for Maori, judging by some of his remarks this week.

Labour has identified the fuss around the Emissions Trading Scheme and also Maori Party MP Hone Harawira as fertile blue-collar ground to be mined as well.

Twice in the past week, Goff has played the race card, albeit carefully, by suggesting first that there was one rule for Harawira over his comments about white mo-fos and another rule for other MPs, and then raising the prospect that National's proposed settlement with iwi over the ETS was based on ethnicity.

This is dangerous ground, obviously, and Prime Minister John Key had a crack at Goff in the House over it this week, accusing him of "the worst kind of politics''. This is a bit ironic given National's previous indulgence in precisely this kind of behaviour, but it certainly got a reaction from the Labour leader, who was quick to his feet to demand an apology.

Goff told Parliament he had never indulged "the politics of race'' although I think he protested a bit much. He is clearly trying to send a soft dog whistle to Labour supporters who abandoned his party at the last election because they were fed up with precisely the sort of "pandering to Maori'' that National could now be accused of.

National's protests that it is doing nothing of the sort are equally flustered, however. There's no real way to argue that it is offering a sweetheart deal to some iwi over forestry for any other reason than to get the votes it needs from the Maori Party to pass the ETS.

Yes, Ngai Tahu may have a case that the value of its forests has been lowered by the scheme, but many other owners of pre-1990 forests are in the same boat. The difference is they don't have a Treaty settlement.

It's a moot point as to whether or not they would have been able to prove their case in a court, although personally I think it's unlikely. So did official advice to the Government, which has urged it not to settle because of the chance of setting a precedent.

Certainly it appears Labour had decided not to settle, but the change in political circumstance means it's now likely Ngai Tahu is going to get lucky.

Outside the forestry industry, I don't know whether ordinary Kiwis will be annoyed by this or not. This kind of wheeling and dealing is part of MMP, and it's hardly the first time tradeoffs of this sort have been organised. Labour did it all the time with New Zealand First.

But I get the sense that Goff's political radar, which must be reasonably well-tuned given the length of time he's been in Parliament, senses he might just be on to something here. It's a long game, but if he can position himself as the friend of the worker who's missing out while being collared with higher fees, he might just be able to drive some of those voters back home to Labour.

I say might, because Phil isn't the natural blue-collar type, no matter how many times he tells us that he went to Papatoetoe High School.

Overall though, a pretty reasonable performance from the Labour leader this week.

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165 comments
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jennifer   #1   02:40 pm Nov 20 2009

It's a certainty that all the Tories will drop into street gang mode and bash Goff ruthlessly, but I tend to agree that he had a pretty good week, and moreover, that Key had a pretty bad week. As we move into Christmas and then into next year, I get the sense that Key will soon be having more and more bad weeks. Perhaps the extended honeymoon is finally coming to a close?

Cullen's Sidekick   #2   02:49 pm Nov 20 2009

Colin says - "Overall though, a pretty reasonable performance from the Labour leader this week" Colin, if you think this a reasonable performance, you haven't seen anything yet. My spies have stolen Fill Gap’s diary. Here are the ten top acts he is planning in the next few weeks. 1. He will dress up in black and try to run in with the all Blacks 2. He will dress up in all whites and try to score his own goal 3. He will again dress in white and pretend to be a fast bowler 4. He will wear a leather jacket and an eye patch and try to ride his push bike into Wanganui (or should I say Whanganui?) 5. He will wear a kilt and walk around Lambton Quay in gale force winds. Labour has nothing to hide 6. He will be the lead singer in a local band and sing Roy Orbison’s hit – “All I have to do is dream” – in Auckland’s Big Day Out. He will call himself “Gooney Man” 7. He will be giving Finance 101 lessons to school kids for free – he will teach them how to spend the money they don’t have 8. He is going to team up with Slinger and Xena and create a new TV series – “Goff with the Wind”. Xena will act as the wind which blows Goff away and Slinger will give us the forecast when the wind will blow and how much carbon it will carry 9. He will be the lead act in a comedy play with Jumbo, Jeanz Fitz and aunty King titled – “Twilight of our life – New moon and sun” 10. Finally he will challenge Emperor in a boxing match – Tua Vs Cameron style. This could be his only chance to KO Emperor Then Colin will write a blog and conclude – “Overall, a dramatic performance from the Labour leader this month”.

bobberesford.com   #3   02:50 pm Nov 20 2009

Goff is actually closer to working class common sense than most cabinet level politicians....used to do his Uni holidays in the freezing works ( could he earn the nickname Chopper Phil ?....and then ride a motor bike with Drag handlebars to suit. ) And Labour is right to latch onto the very dangerous preferential re-election bribes to the Maori Separatist Party ( which will continue at analarming rate ) being dished out by National , who figure they've got another 2 terms guarranteed this way, with John Key smiling a lot. Never mind the IMF style unsustainable borrowing and austerity program.....the country will be sold off next term to pay for that. Labour are best to actually campaign on abolishing the Maori seats....the only way now to stop the Maori Separatist Party - who only get any mainstream Maori support by promising everyone more freebies - which National are now giving them. Any party would be better for farmers than the current Nat Cabinet - which is married to the private banking system. So if Labour would actually drop the ETS altogether....now is a good time....the farmers would vote for them. Simply take a stand on genuine pollution ( could be taxed ) and plant more trees. ETS schemes are a nightmare con scheme. Phil is talking re-assuringly about more Gov money control. That's what we used to have before the IMF's Neo-Liberal shock therapy program that sold much of the country and sent us from high up to the bottom of the OECD. Nats are ready for much more. But Gov Monetary control should go much further - not just fixing the exchange rate once a week - so will be interesting to see where Phil and David Cunliffe are really at on the crucial Monetary/Fiscal situation ? Only reform will save us....before the country gets sold off.

Kelly   #4   02:51 pm Nov 20 2009

Goff as the friend of the worker who's missing out while being collared with higher fees...

Ironic since it was Goffs lot who oversaw tax upon tax upon tax. If it moved.... tax it

Ben   #5   02:56 pm Nov 20 2009

Goff's attitude over motorcyclists is reminiscent of the quote about a politician looking for a bandwagon to jump on. I suppose you can hardly blame him; the man is a complete irrelevance at the moment.

Seeing the behaviour of motorcyclists around Wellington on a daily basis, plus the veiled threats of violence by their leader following the protests not to mention fatuous observations about levies on old people because of the risk of falls, I am with this government 100%. In fact the levies should increase in proportion to the protests.

Listening to those organising the protests they are inarticulate, probably semi literate and quite incapable of marshalliing a set of ideas to form a logical argumnet. In a nutshell natural supporters of bobberesford.com and Labour. National has nothing to worry about by sticking to its guns.

RichardRight   #6   03:31 pm Nov 20 2009

As usual this is all a waste of carbon emissions from labour......mr 4.2% is never going to be PM of our fine land......anything said to the contrary is just more fanciful thoughts from labourites....

Dave T   #7   03:43 pm Nov 20 2009

Ha ha, realy?

Sailor Sam   #8   03:58 pm Nov 20 2009

Statistics show that middle age men, trying to recapture their youth by buying big powerful motorbikes have the highest bike accident rates. No wonder Phil Goff joined the ACC protests, he does not want to pay for his increased chances of a motorbike accident.

As for monetary policy - I quote from another STUFF article - "Mr Goff said the present rules worked well for the first 10 years after they were introduced in 1989, but not now". So they worked well from 1989 to 1999, when National was in power, but not from 1999? Was he not part of the Helen Clark government from 1999 to 2008? Did he disagree for all those years with monetary policy of his prime minister and minister of finance and did nothing about it?

Lets face it, the BBQ season is nearly upon us and all Phil Goff is doing is trying to stave off a leadership spill.

I would not call his performance this week as "reasonable", I think it was still "below average". He needs to really lift his game, if he actually can, to make an impact but he carries bagage from the Helen Clark years like a millstone around his neck. That is his and Labour's biggest problem, he is seen as "yesterdays" man and Labour's fortunes will not improve until he is gone.

sammy auck   #9   04:44 pm Nov 20 2009

Whatever Goff's doing, it's obviously starting to work.

Labour up 4% in the latest Morgan poll, as National and the Maori Party lose support.

Murray   #10   05:22 pm Nov 20 2009

No .... Mr Key's biggest humiliation would be to lead a one-term government, jennifer, and besides his team of newcomers need at least six years in office to gain all their perks and entitlements for the rest of their lives.

Cullen's Sidekick(#2) says, " he (Goff) will teach them how to spend the money they don’t have ".

Is it $250 million a week we are spending to keep the honeymoon going ?

Anyway, we have just discovered $60 billion oil reserves.


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