It’s official*

* (As official as a 1,000-person phone poll can be, anyhow.)

Māori support for Phil Goff after “blue collars, red necks” is very low — 18% among all respondents, and 36% among Labour voters. That’s dire. (Full Digipoll results here.)

So, if these numbers are to be believed, (also with the proviso that this rot probably began before the Nationhood speech) the first part of my critique is borne out: Labour under Phil Goff will struggle for support among Māori, without serious and long-term remedial work. The two other points of my critique remain open: that it is philosophically unjustifiable for a progressive left party to betray a loyal support base and its quest for tino rangatiratanga in this manner; and that the corresponding long-term increase in support among the “social conservatives” in the working class, who were the targets of the strategy, will probably not make up for this loss (and the negative-sum effects of depressing Māori turnout). I’ll watch with interest.

What’s interesting is that Goff’s rhetoric has moderated substantially since December. Goff and Pagani seem to have lost their nerve. This is potentially the worst of all possible worlds for Labour’s electoral fortunes: they have rightly been tarred with the redneck brush, probably alienating Māori and social liberals in important numbers, but not sustained their narrative for long enough to turn the targets of their appeal away from National. Double loss in electoral terms; but I think something of a gain in strategic terms for the party.

Long may their nerve to continue this ugly business remain weak.

L

5 thoughts on “It’s official*

  1. Tom Semmens

    Oh and if anyone doubts Espiner’s bias, check out how he spun Goff’s answers around tax on Q&A on the 6pm news on Sunday night. First, he tried to expose Goff by asking how much tax he paid. When Goff was to clever for that, Espiner simply switched his attack in the following voice over and smeered Goff by association saying “Goff may be in the clear but at least ten Labour MP’s may have structured their finances…”

    In my view, a clearly biased piece designed to lead the viewer to an anti-Labour conclusion.

  2. Lew Post author

    Tom, I’m not sure how you figure that. I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Espiner on here, I almost never watch the 6 o’clock news (at that time I’m either still working or giving the girl her bath), and I haven’t even seen the reports you’re referring to. The assessment above is based entirely on the numbers in the DigiPoll result.

    So while you may be right about Guyon (I remain sceptical), it’s hardly germane to my point, and it’s misguided to try to attack me for it.

    That having been said, trying to attack anyone who points out Labour’s failings and, if necessary, manufacturing grounds to do so is indicative of the sort of a uncritical partisan defensiveness I’ve often observed the party’s ideological hard core of supporters. It’s a damned shame. Part of the duty of loyalty is calling failure when you see it, and right now Labour needs “my party, right or wrong” cheerleading like it needs a hole in the head.

    L

  3. Simon

    I keep getting the impression that Goff’s positioning speeches over the last year or so have more to do with putting National into a vulnerable postion, than just casting a net over prospective Labour votes, if the two can be treated as distinct approaches.

    Taking a step back from the existing consensus on monetary orthodoxy creates more room on the economic left, as well as casting National as the defenders of any inequalities and injustices resulting from the existing arrangements.

    In attacking Maori ‘privilege’, represented by conservative iwi, Goff can set up National (and the maori Party) as favouring the interests of an elite group, a group that is an anethema to his ‘ordinary’ New Zealanders. This would work much better for Goff if the maori party would get out of the way. He can also claim, as Shane Jones does, that he is speaking for those Maori who do not benefit from the current consociationalism.

    It may be his best shot of at least polling sufficiently well at the next election to retain the leadership. It’s a better strategy, at this stage at least, than going for Key.

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