Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A safe pair of hands

That's the best way of describing Labour's post-Clark leadership decision. Phil Goff and Annette King are both extremely competent. They won't screw it up by making stupid mistakes. They were probably the best choice available under the circumstances (and certainly the thought of David Cunliffe doesn't fill me with any joy). But I feel like I need something else.

Clark's failure as a leader was her inability or unwillingness to inspire, to articulate a positive vision, to tell us where she was going and what she (within the limits set by coalition partners, budgetary considerations, and the phase of the moon) wanted to do. This, in the end, was her downfall - after three terms, managerial politics and slow but steady incremental gains simply are not enough. But by electing Goff and King - political managers cast from the same mold, and having the same belief forged in the 80's that visions are things that crazy people like Roger Douglas have - Labour seems set to repeat the same mistake.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Phil Goff will be able to go beyond managerialism to give us good, positive reasons to elect him as Prime Minister in three years time. I certainly hope so. But based on his past performance, I wouldn't want to put money on it.