Monday, May 02, 2011

Goff's empty threat

It's Monday, so that means it must be time for the regular weekly failure by Phil Goff. This week's fuck-up? refusing to work with Hone Harawira's Mana Party:

Labour leader Phil Goff has ruled out working with anyone in the Mana Party formed by renegade MP Hone Harawira at the weekend.


Mr Goff had previously ruled out working with Mr Harawira after the November general election.

Labour spokeswoman Vikki Carter said Mr Goff had now extended that decision to any MP who enlists with the Mana Party.

He could not work with anyone who worked for a party with values and core policy shaped by Mr Harawira, she said.

While the Mana Party is led by Harawira, it is also clearly on the left, and therefore a natural ally. And while its obviously a lot further left than Goff - a former RogerNome - is comfortable with, working out how to work together despite such differences is what the coalition process is for. There's no suggestion yet that Harawira will be as retrograde in coalition talks as, say, Don Brash, and given the presence of Sue Bradford I'd regard that as highly unlikely. As her Parliamentary record on youth rates, mothers in prison, and child beating show, she excels in finding ways to work together. Goff ruling them out is therefore simply shooting himself in the foot. So why's he doing it?

One obvious reason is to try and prevent left-wing Labour voters from backing Hone to pull Labour left; pre-emptively saying "he will have no influence" weakens that tactic. But there's also an obvious element of pandering to racism. Hone is a hate-figure among rednecks, and Goff wants to signal that they can safely vote Labour without fear he'll go into coalition with an "uppity Maori". Neither shows Goff in a good light.

But besides that, the threat is empty. If Hone's votes are crucial to Goff becoming Prime Minister, this declaration will be forgotten in an instant (just as Key's promise that Brash won't be deputy PM or Finance Minister will be). It's simply a hypocritical exercise which needlessly alienates a natural ally, and which only a fool would believe. But maybe Goff (and his advisors) think we are all fools.