Home > The Body Politic > The loneliness of Phil Goff

The loneliness of Phil Goff



As a Labour party member, the sadness I feel today is tinged with a sense of resignation. John Key is the coolest, untouchable kid in the unforgiving social strata of high school. Anyone who remembers such cliques will understand feeling hopeless and powerless to change playground politics, let alone our country’s politics at a time when brand Key is pervasively popular. In the interest of gracious defeat, let me congratulate Key and National on their conquest.

Last night wasn’t entirely gloomy. New Zealand First’s gallop to 6.8% was like the class nerd scoring with the hottest girl in school.  That Winston Peters and his crew triumphed in spite of concerted media efforts by Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner, John Campbell, Paul Holmes et al to sideline them makes the victory stunning and sweet.

Another highlight of last night was seeing the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter working at the Green party’s celebration. It is progressive and heartening to see a political party actively promoting the validity and importance of NZSL, an official language of this country.

Phil Goff – I implore you not to resign, yet I sense the inevitability of you doing so.

In a hostile, biased media environment, populated by media personnel who are reduced to slobbering stupidity in Key’s presence, you never stood a chance. You knew this, so you presumably thought, “What the hell” and you campaigned hard. You’re not a firebrand. What you are is steady, methodical and quietly determined. You have integrity.

Even while your treacherous colleagues sharpened their knives, you persisted.

While the media fawned over Key’s confident, solo fronting of National’s campaign, yet double standardly cast you in the desolate role of man alone, you trundled along.

Last night, your concession speech was gracious and moving. The journalists who lambasted you with cruel, needling questions as soon as you were off the stage should be ashamed. They wouldn’t let you have even a few minutes of dignity. Someone’s concession speech, like yours this time, Helen Clark’s in 2008, or Bill English’s back in 2002, is not a moment for gloating. It is a time to put political allegiances aside and to respect a fellow human’s intrinsic humanity and dignity, to recognise how hard it is to admit that efforts, based on someone’s strongest convictions, have simply not been enough.

Shame on our hectoring, salivating, unseemly media. Shame on your grasping, backstabbing colleagues.

If you resign, I fear that the Labour will scrabble around for another three years with a new leader who the media will maltreat in the same way that they have abused you, out of dribbling sycophancy to Key. No one else could withstand this abuse. That you have come this far speaks volumes about your durability and tenacity. If you leave, Labour will try to reconfigure but will end up in a confused, unpopular scramble of egos and treachery.

Please stay. You did experience a victory of sorts last night, despite being defeated – you came into your own and shook off the ghosts of the past.

If you resign, I will resign my membership of Labour. Suddenly, New Zealand First is looking good.






  1. Deborah Kean
    27 November 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I agree! Phil you did not deserve the way the media treated you…

  2. 27 November 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Phil is really a mirage.

  3. 27 November 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Peter Petterson :

    Phil is really a mirage.

    This’ll have to be one we disagree on, Peter… 😉

    I think he did pretty well, considering everything going against him.

  4. Gosman
    28 November 2011 at 9:31 am

    I actually think Phil Goff performed really well in the election campaign. Although over the past three years he had been pretty ineffectual and you can’t blame this purely on the media. All opposition leaders suffer in comparision with the Prime Minister. You just have to suck it up and deal with it.
    that stated he needs to go, although not right away. He represents the past not the future. Labour needs fresh blood at the top.

  5. Red
    30 November 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I think Goff was really good as well. He seemed to know what he was talking about.

  6. Tom Sawyer
    6 December 2011 at 12:09 am

    Sorry no as much as he’s a nice guy I think Goff isn’t cut out top take on Key. Labour needs someone else to cut down that Tory traitor.

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