Goff is the new Brash

datePosted on 15:26, November 26th, 2009 by Lew

Perhaps this speech is an attempt by Phil Goff to reclaim the term and concept of “Nationhood” from the clutches of rampant colonialism. If so, it is an abject failure. It compounds Labour’s cynical appeasement of National’s race-war stance in 2003 with a reactionary, resentful re-assertion of the same principles before which Labour cowered in 2004. It is the very epitome of what Raymond Nairn and Timothy McCreanor called “insensitivity and hypersensitivity“. More on this here

I had an incandescent rant underway, but I’ve said it all before. If you refer to the tag archive under the terms “Chris Trotter” and “Michael Laws” you can read most of it — which should give you an idea of the company Goff’s speech deserves to keep. And in the mean time, Idiot/Savant has summed up my thoughts in several thousand fewer words than I would have. I can do no better than to quote him (and please excuse the transitory obscenity in this instance):

This is the same cynical attempt to whip up racism so memorably used by Don Brash at Orewa. I despised it then and despise it now. Goff knows better, just as much as Brash did. But he’s willing to pander to racists to get a short-term boost in the polls, and bugger the long-term damage such pandering does to racial harmony.
Well, fuck him. Racism has no place in our society, and a proper left-wing party would be fighting against it, not engendering and exploiting it for political gain.
[...]
Despite Labour’s dear wishes, the Maori Party is not going to go away. Instead, it looks likely to be a permanent feature of our political landscape. More importantly, it looks to be setting itself up as the swing bloc which makes or breaks governments. That’s certainly likely to be the case at the next election, unless the government really screws up.
What this means is that if Labour wants to regain power, it will have to sit across the table from and work with the Maori Party. And that will simply be impossible if they are running on a racist platform. By following Brash’s path of cheap racism, Labour is alienating the party it desperately needs to win over. And the result may see it locked out of government for far longer than if it had kept its hands clean.

I’m trying very hard to find an image of that “white is the new black” All Whites poster/shirt with which to adorn this post — because that’s what Goff is driving at here: what you thought was colonial paternalism wasn’t, and what you thought was self-determination isn’t. It’s a disgrace.

L

23 Responses to “Goff is the new Brash”

  1. Alex on November 26th, 2009 at 18:20

    I’m beginning to find Kiwipolitico is the only left blog that’s actually sensible. I just can’t take anything seriously on thestandard anymore after they took the line that Goff’s Maori bashing is OK.

    It’s good to know there are at least some people on the left who see that all Labour’s doing is playing the race card, and that it’s reprehensible.

  2. George D on November 26th, 2009 at 18:56

    Yeah, it’s disappointing.

    I’m largely lost for words about today. I have do have words for Phil Goff and his band of enablers, but they aren’t pretty.

  3. Eddie Clark on November 26th, 2009 at 19:26

    This shouldn’t be surprising. Labour passed the foreshore and seabed act which, if not Maori bashing was a craven response to Don Brash’s own racist bullshit. I think it was the biggest moral failing of their 9 years in government. No real surprise that the some of the same people who were at the top of the party hierarchy then are coming out with this dogwhistling now.

    I think this has sealed for me that I can’t vote for Labour as long as Goff’s leader. Labour clearly has a lot of talent among its new MPs, but they equally clearly don’t seem to have much influence.

  4. George D on November 26th, 2009 at 19:40

    I think this has sealed for me that I can’t vote for Labour as long as Goff’s leader. Labour clearly has a lot of talent among its new MPs, but they equally clearly don’t seem to have much influence.

    I don’t disagree with you – I know that not everybody is happy with the direction being taken. But I’m under the impression that this is not a new thing, and that the party has always had a very centralised decision-making structure.

  5. Scott Yorke on November 26th, 2009 at 20:30

    I’m not pleased with the direction Goff is taking Labour in, but Goff as the new Brash? Not even close.

    As for the need by Labour to work with the Maori Party, I’m not convinced. The Maori Party-Nats ETS deal shafts most Maori as much as it does non-Maori. If the Maori Party don’t get their act together they may be history. That may be good for Labour.

    And, like it or not, this speech may well help to recapture some of the middle ground Labour lost in ’08. I just wish Goff wouldn’t use race to do it.

  6. dave on November 26th, 2009 at 20:40

    I think as a result of Goff’s terrible mistake today, many Labour supporters will say the cannot vote for Labour while Goff is leader, in the same way that many National supporters said they could not vote for National while Brash was leader after the Orewa Nationhood speech.

    It’s about time political representatives chose the principled option when in power, not maintain they want to do so while in opposition after refusing to do so when in power. themselves.

  7. Scott Yorke on November 26th, 2009 at 20:59

    I think as a result of Goff’s terrible mistake today, many Labour supporters will say the cannot vote for Labour while Goff is leader, in the same way that many National supporters said they could not vote for National while Brash was leader after the Orewa Nationhood speech.

    Not that many supporters then. Remember, support for the Nats rose sharply after Orewa.

    Realistically, who else are people on the Left going to vote for? The Maori Party has sold the country out. The Greens? Maybe if their former leader wasn’t so busy signing ‘truther” petitions, and if the party wasn’t so intent on purging itself of its genuine activist elements (i.e. Bradford).

    Sorry, but we’re stuck with Labour. Just wash your hands after ticking the box in 2011.

  8. Alex on November 26th, 2009 at 21:10

    I’ll probably vote Green. While they are becoming more professionalised and shifting right, they’re not as “centrist” as the Labour Party, and they’re not embracing racist rhetoric for a few votes.

    You’re right, there’s not really much for people who are genuinely left wing, but the Greens are the best of a bad bunch.

  9. Lee - MWT on November 26th, 2009 at 21:48

    So the penny’s dropped has it?

  10. Pascal's bookie on November 26th, 2009 at 21:50

    Well I’m hardly going to stop voting L, seeing I’ve voted for them precisely once. And I got good and drunk to do so, and did so solely because I thought it was the best way of keeping Brash out (given how close the greens were to the 5 percent doomline).

    Now this.

    Not.a.happy.bookie.

  11. Francois on November 26th, 2009 at 22:05

    This is much ado over nothing.

    I don’t think Goff said anything racist in his speech. And neither will the 95% of non-ivory tower academics who constitute a majority of the electorate.

    This is not an “orewa” moment. This is some obscure speech which the average joe won’t remember a month from now (if he even knows about it now)

    Mark my words.

  12. Michael on November 26th, 2009 at 22:19

    I won’t be voting Labour in 2011.

  13. [...] 22:33, November 26th, 2009 by Lew In the Insensitivity and hypersensitivity paper I referred to previously, Raymond Nairn and Timothy McCreanor studied submissions to the Human Rights Commission in response [...]

  14. Idiot/savant on November 26th, 2009 at 22:37

    Neither will I. No votes for racists!

  15. Lew on November 26th, 2009 at 22:43

    I concede that my title is more polemic than descriptive, and I accept that the content of Goff’s speech isn’t of the same tenor as Brash’s. But the similarities outweigh the differences: a struggling leader and his struggling party searching for its electorate, finds a convenient whipping boy to whip, and one which (if whipped correctly) will enable him to command the political agenda for the coming term.

    I don’t think Goff’s done that. His speech isn’t of the quality of Brash’s, and if you do something like this you have to go big — like Sarah Palin big. So he fails on both fronts: he won’t win the dedicated blue-collar rednecks over because he’s not gone far enough, but if he doesn’t recant firmly and humbly, he’s probably gone far enough to alienate Māori, without whom Labour are done for. As Danyl says; the māori party have handed Labour a great opportunity, and Goff has squandered it.

    (This quite apart from the unscrupulous pandering to values which should be anathema to his party and the wider movement it represents.)

    L

  16. Eddie Clark on November 27th, 2009 at 07:28

    “And neither will the 95% of non-ivory tower academics who constitute a majority of the electorate.”

    Sorry, Francois. The use of that line instantly renders you not worth listening to. It’s the equivalent of dismissing opinions as those of the unwashed masses. Try debating without using meaningless, decades-old cliches, please?

  17. Nationhood, take two « Life and Politics on November 27th, 2009 at 11:22

    [...] Lew over at Kiwipolitio was similarly displeased: “Perhaps this speech is an attempt by Phil Goff to reclaim the term and concept of [...]

  18. Tom Semmens on November 27th, 2009 at 11:52

    Funnily enough, most on the left agree Labour the last election because a significant proportion of middle NZ turned against them.

    The disconnect between the blogging chardonnay socialists of the People Republic of Grey Lynn (support for Sue Bradford & race based policies: nearly 100%), who hate Goff’s speech, and the freezing workers, courier van drivers and health care workers (support for Sue Bradford & race based policies: margin of error) who Labour lost at the last election is pretty much complete in the blogsphere, which is after all dominated by tut-tutting middle class hypocrites – you know, the ones who will hate Goff’s speech online but quietly send their own kids to best (and by default) whitest school they can afford, the ones whose posts revile Michael Laws for his patch ban as an attack on freedom of speech, but make sure they do their posting in a leafy suburb far, far away from gang trouble.

    My bet is there are a helluva a lot more votes to be won for labour out there in Waitakere and the provinces than there is on teh blogsphere.

    Let’s face it – the online left is hardly Goff’s intended audience, and to paraphrase Stalin – “The liberal left? How many votes have they got?”

  19. George D on November 27th, 2009 at 13:09

    Tom you can do class without dividing along race.

  20. Lew on November 27th, 2009 at 13:16

    George, from my understanding of Tom’s position he (along with Trotter and others) considers ethnic and cultural identification to be nothing more than a manifestation of false consciousness, which must be subjugated to the wider class struggle as a matter of priority. Same (or similar) goes for gender and other forms of identity politics.

    So I’m not sure what you say is true, within that ideological frame of reference.

    L

    (PS: Tom, I don’t intend this as an attack but as an honest observation about your positions as explicated here and elsewhere. Happy for you to correct me, though I’d rather not have the thread jacked by it.)

  21. Pascal's bookie on November 27th, 2009 at 14:16

    “The liberal left? How many votes have they got?”

    Helen Clark got three terms.

    But less facetiously, if Labour and National are so similar in the eyes of battlers that a bit of race baiting will swing them over one way or the other, then things aren’t going to be getting any better for anyone, any time soon.

    Labour should be winning those voters by doing things to make them better off. People should vote left in spite of their bigotries, not because of them. No?

  22. Tom Semmens on November 27th, 2009 at 22:20

    Well, I am between the gigs. Response next week. :)

  23. Phil Goff gets his bounce « Life and Politics on December 14th, 2009 at 11:28

    [...] relations, or the caucus’ backing of it.  Who would have though.  I can only imagine that Lew and Idiot/Savant were not polled (or perhaps would have voted for the Greens [...]

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