Poor old Goff has taken a beating over his decision to rule out working with Hone Harawira and rightly so. Without doubt it was a silly call, however from Goff’s strategic perspective it was a sound move. We must remember that Labour’s support has hovered between 30-35% since the 2008 election. This indicates that Labour’s core vote is solid and Goff’s underwhelming performance will not move that support. Therefore, Goff must target the elusive middle. Ruling out Harawira was a dog whistle to middle New Zealanders (i.e. swing voters) who find Hone, for lack of a better term, personally offensive. Take this comment from Goff:
There's so many things that Hone Harawira has said that are extremist, that I find totally incompatible with my beliefs, my values and those of the Labour Party.
This is well crafted rubbish. One will find that Harawira’s stance on GST, the minimum wage, workers rights, the environment and so on are totally compatible with Labour policy and also Labour values. Goff is of course referring to Harawira’s white mofo comments rather than his substantive beliefs.
Sadly for Goff his intended target, the middle, can see right through his hollow rhetoric. They can see that this is just desperate politics. If Goff is to rule out Harawira on the basis of his perceived racism why not rule out anti-immigration anti-Asian Winston Peters? If Goff is to rule out Harawira on the basis that one cannot form a stable government with him why not rule out Winston? How many times has he been sacked? Three.
But perhaps what is most worrying about Goff’s call is the fact that he did not consult caucus. A decision of this magnitude should come about through consultation with caucus, especially the Maori caucus, however Goff chose instead to make the call based on advice from his inept advisors. Over and over Goff acts on the advice of his PR “experts” whose only ideas seem to be to emulate everything John Key does. This approach is not working and the Labour caucus knows this.
Ultimately, Goff wants the middle, but the rate he’s going he will lose his base before he gains the middle. So I am glad this move backfired on Goff. It is cynical and stupid. Straight stupid.