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Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

27 November 2011 78 comments

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Phil Goff – Man of The Hour

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I must admit… When Phil Goff took Labour into the 2011 General Election, I didn’t really give him much credence as a credible alternative to John Key. Due perhaps in part to Key’s popularity with the Masses, and the Key/Media love affair, Phil Goff was simply left in the background, kicking at the sand, waiting for attention.

He seemed… ok. Nothing special in terms of political leadership. Average.

What can I say? I was totally wrong.

Phil Goff led Labour into a battle-royale against one of the most popular governments since David Lange’s administration in the mid/late 1980s. He scored significant debating points against John Key in two out of three Leadership Debates, and toward the end he trounched the National Party leader in the final debate.

John Key wanted to get away from the “Teapot Tapes” saga and focus on issues? Goff agreed, and threw issue after issue at Key.  With the odd exception, Key was left smiling vacantly; looking bored;  or unable to  even make eye-contact with  Goff as the Labour leader fired  issues at the Smile & Wave Kid.

Goff had risen to the challenge, and in my view he did bloody well.

And at his greatest moment; when he made an almost Kennedy-like speech; Goff gave a concession-announcement that I thought was passionate; stirring; and came straight from the man’s soul. Phil Goff loved New Zealand and you could tell from the raw, naked emotion he revealed. He held nothing back.

This man, I thought,  had become a worthy challenger to a National Party Prime Minister who is more about photo-ops than addressing issues; bending the truth when it suits him (or when he’s caught out); and is a fine illustration of how our society values form over substance. Oh yes, we deserve John Key 100%.

In time, we will get over Key’s “smile and wave” persona. Like the children that we are, we will get bored with his vacant optimism and endless promises for a brighter future that is always just around the corner. And we will yearn for something more mature and more meaningful.

I hope Phil Goff is around when that moment comes, because by the gods, we don’t deserve him. Not when Goff gave us a viable alternative to National’s much-disliked policies – and we failed to grasp what was offered.

I hope Phil Goff stays on as Leader of the Labour Party. He shouldn’t have to resign simply because, collectively, we were too thick to connect the populist leader with unpopular policies.

I, for one, will join the Labour Party as a card-carrying member, and will work my butt off to secure a centre-left victory in 2014 – if Phil Goff stays as Leader.

C’mon, Phil. Wadaya say, boss?

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