Brian Edwards Media

A sympathetic but essentially dire analysis of the past, present and future of Phil Goff

zimbio.com

 

 The likely end of Phil Goff’s political career has all the hallmarks of a personal tragedy. The fates appear to have conspired against the Member for Mt. Roskill with singular vindictiveness. A 27-year apprenticeship for the top job may well end in November with the arguably more qualified candidate pipped at the post.

Yet Goff’s political CV could scarcely be more impressive:

Boy from poor Auckland family leaves home at 16; puts himself through university by working as a freezing worker and cleaner; gains a first class honours degree in Political Studies at the University of Auckland where he lectures while completing his MA; stands for Labour in Roskill in 1981 and wins the seat.

Becomes the youngest Minister in the Lange/Palmer/Moore administrations (1984-1990) holding portfolios as diverse as Housing,  Labour, Youth Affairs, Tourism and Education; loses Roskill in the landslide against Labour in 1990 and takes up a teaching position (along with yours truly) at what is now the AUT; accepts a scholarship to study for six months at Oxford University.

Is re-elected MP for Roskill in 1993; Labour Leader Helen Clark whose early parliamentary career runs parallel to his, appoints him shadow Minister of  Justice; is part of a failed coup to replace her in June 1996 but Clark does not demote him; under her administration (1999-2008) holds portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Justice, Defence and Disarmament; is widely respected as an intelligent, hard-working, reliable and highly competent Minister.

After Clark steps down in the wake of National’s win in the 2008 election, is unanimously elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party. 

Both Goff and Labour have floundered in the polls ever since.   

It’s worth pointing out, however, that Goff’s and Labour’s poll ratings are actually better now, seven months before a general election,  than Clark’s and Labour’s were seven months before the 1996 general election. Had it not been for Winston Peter’s decision to go with National, Clark would have won that election.

There is, however, no such expectation that Goff can win this year’s election in November. He has been written off by the media and, if the latest polls are to be believed, by a majority of Labour’s own supporters. After a 27-year career in Parliament the Leader of the Opposition looks almost certain to be denied the glittering prize. Therein lies the tragedy.

Goff, it seems to me, has three strikes against him.

The first is that he took over as leader of a party which had been in office for nine years, which the electorate was thoroughly tired of and which had just lost an election. His task, to re-enthuse that  electorate to the point where it would throw out the government after only one term, was nigh on impossible. Political history argues against it.

Second, he has been around too long. In a post entitled The Prince Charles Syndrome (March 11, 2010) I wrote:

Working against Goff… is a phenomenon which I like to call ‘The Prince Charles Syndrome’. Charles, the man who would be king, has simply been around too long. Kept waiting by a mother in excellent health and showing no inclination to abdicate, the once young and attractive prince has lost his appeal…

Kept waiting by the hugely charismatic  if morally flawed Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, the dour Scottish son of a Presbyterian minister, may have suffered the same fate – around too long. And the same may be true of Phil Goff.

At the heart of National’s 2008 election win was the simplistic but potent belief that it was ‘time for a change’. John Key had been in Parliament only 6 years when he became Prime Minister. He was fresh and new…

When the 2011 election rolls around, Phil Goff will have been in Parliament for 27 years, kept waiting for twelve of those years by a woman who in 1996 also refused to abdicate.

The third strike against the Leader of the Opposition is that amorphous quality ‘charisma’. Or rather the lack of it. Phil does not have charisma. His ‘image’ – that other indefinable term – is terrible: stiff, wooden, robotic, uncomfortable, ill-at-ease, stern, censorious, lecturing, occasionally irritable, occasionally sour.

In an unhappy irony Goff is a Labour leader with no apparent common touch. The ‘apparent’ is important, because people who know him and people who meet him face to face speak of an entirely different person – approachable, warm, relaxed, funny, a good bloke, a decent man.

To those three strikes you can add the self-fulfilling nature of opinion polls and  the expectation of failure engendered by the media and, to be frank, by sympathetic but essentially dire columns like this. When everyone is saying you can’t win, it becomes more difficult to win.

And this government has been helped by natural and man-made disasters, by the easy charm of its leader and by the seemingly unlimited willingness of the electorate to forgive it its trespasses. Our economy, according to both left and right-wing pundits, is about to go down the gurgler. We are drowning in debt. But National and its leader still rate through the roof. Go figure.

Still, it’s only April and there’s Hone and Don and Winston and a blackish budget to come and people without jobs and families without food and, regardless of the outcome of the Rugby World Cup, more bad news than good in the pipeline, and last but by no means least, the vagaries of MMP to figure in the mix. And stranger things have happened.

And two questions may remain in Phil Goff’s mind: What would have happened if Clark had done a Bolger in 1996 and walked away rather than challenging the plotters to take their chances in a Caucus vote? And what might have happened if she’d given him 18 months breathing space after the last election before leaving him holding  the less than bouncing baby? After all, in politics, as in comedy, timing is everything.  

44 Comments:

  1. “Our economy, according to both left and right-wing pundits, is about to go down the gurgler. We are drowning in debt. But National and its leader still rate through the roof. Go figure.”

    Part of the problem is that the electorate, rightly or wrongly, blames the last Labour government for our financial predicament.

    The other point is that all first term governments have a lot of political capital in the bank. It is one of the criticisms of Key that he has failed to take advantage of that political capital and as a result we have drifted for two and a half years.

    I find Goff far more likeable than his predecessor who came across as a control freak. However Labour was doomed from the moment of the last election and even had Richie McCaw and Dan Carter been joint leaders they would have been doomed.

    And finally the thought of NZ under a government of Labour, Greeens, NZ First and Hone Harewira fills me with dread. I think on balance a Key/Brash axis would be preferable.

  2. The third strike against the Leader of the Opposition is that amorphous quality ‘charisma’. Or rather the lack of it. Phil does not have charisma. His ‘image’ – that other indefinable term – is terrible: stiff, wooden, robotic, uncomfortable, ill-at-ease, stern, censorious, lecturing, occasionally irritable, occasionally sour.

    Um, you might want to grab the smelling salts and retire to the chaise longue… but exactly the same thing could be said about Helen Clark.

    The difference is that Helen went out and earned people trust. I didn’t agree with her very often but I respected a woman who said what she meant, meant what she said and could say it the same way twice in a row.

    Compare and contrast as you see fit.

    BE: Clark, like Thatcher and Muldoon, had her own brand of charisma. Goff also went out and earned the trust of many Labour supporters.

  3. Excellent piece. Does nothing to relieve me of a growing sense of despair. Perfect picture atop.
    I wonder if Gordon Brown can cheer me up from The McEwan Hall? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1e1TIKu89Y

  4. Maybe its a fact of political life in NZ now that the PM must have a Presidential quality. (Maybe its time to be a Republic and get a President for real?) A pity really because there is far more at stake than Gloss. Still hope for a Leftish Government if for no other reason than fear of what will happen if National continue with their agenda.

  5. I agree with your comments Brian. Mr Goff is on a hiding to nowhere. His screen charisma is almost non-existent – and unfortunately for him, that matters.
    Ms Clark had an unusual presence on TV, but in person her charisma is quite amazing. I was shocked by her charm when I “met” her in a room full of hard-to-impress journos. I met Mr Goff addressing a Labour Dept work scheme once…his mouth moved and noises came out, but I remember little else.
    My only problem with the analysis of recent polls is that we never get the “undecided” voters in the mix anymore. I believe this is a disadvantage to the Labour Party as many of it’s supporters are likely to be tactical Green voters. National voters are less likely to be undecided as their natural ally is the dead in the water (for now) ACT…
    The preferred Prime Minister question can possibly be used to estimate the “undecideds”… from memory, if you add up the percentages the various candidates get, it only adds to about 60%… which leaves 40% undecided.
    Whether I’m right or not, I can only really believe polls when all the information is presented. Why don’t we get to see it anymore? I think it could be because the reporters presenting the stories don’t understand the maths…sigh.

    BE: You make some interesting points. I’m not an expert on polls, other than to say that it’s the trend that matters rather than the individual poll. However, in recent elections the polls have got it pretty well right.

  6. I think charisma, although important, is not important enough to be a ‘strike’. As pointed you pointed out in reply to Craig, there are many different types and manifestations of charisma. As a young lefty the largest problem I see, is that Goff does not appear to stand for anything. labour has been given numerous opportunities to take a stand against some of the more painful policies of the current crop (the budget, urgency, certain austerity measures, to name a few)and yet each time they fold in debates or end up looking like petulant children. Labour (and Goff as well) needs to take lessons in being an opposition party before we can seriously hope to see them govern again.

    Labour does not need to move further left, they just need to move back to the left. Stop chasing votes and start speaking the truths of your political ideology.

    I feel that the labour party should work harder in opposition, and should work on the manner in which it communicates it’s opinions to the electorate as a whole.

    Goff will unlikely realise his goal of being prime minister, however he could leave a lasting legacy by spearheading a ground up revitalisation of the labour party.

    I know I am being naive.

    BE: On the whole, I think a degree of naivete (aka idealism) would be very desirable in New Zealand politics. The Greens are the nearest thing, particulary the enormously courageous and honest Keith Locke who, sadly, will be leaving Parliament at the end of the year.

  7. More to the point, this is not Phil Goff’s election to win, it is Key’s and the National-right coalition’s to lose. Plenty of time, plenty of wheels to turn before Nov 26. A little birdie told me: Key will be gone.

    BE: Key will be gone if he loses, moving on to the next item on his bucket list: make millions, become PM… As for those little birdies, remember: they also have bird brains.

  8. I think Labour should count their lucky stars they didn’t win 1996. Would have been the end of Clark (those 3 years after 1996 shaped her positive attributes). Would have been the end of NZ First and MMP as well.

    BE: Quite right. The loss turned out to be a blessing in disguise. That was Helen’s view as well.

  9. Charisma is a funny thing – I have spent an hour with both Key and Goff both were very affable but both had zero personal charisma – you know that quality that radiates a room as soon as the person walks in – Presence. Goff’s public presence or at least his telly presence is, I agree sadly lacking. He seems to try far too hard to be Someone, seems to strut out his “I’m really really decisive” persona. Whereas OkyDoky John just grins his “don’t worry be happy” smile.
    Brian, didn’t you have something to do with Our Helen’s telly transformation – if you could you do something for Phil – what would it be?

    BE: “Brian, didn’t you have something to do with Our Helen’s telly transformation – if you could you do something for Phil – what would it be?” Yes, Judy and I began advising Helen in June 1996 and were her (and her ministers’) media advisers until Labour lost in 2008. Phil has not expressed any interest in retaining our services.

  10. Whoa Brian, methinks The African Grey Parrot and thousands of his species would take exception to your consideration of their brains in anything less than glowing terms. We are living in times of the unprecedented, unusual and unexpected.

  11. “The first is that he took over as leader of a party which had been in office for nine years, which the electorate was thoroughly tired of and which had just lost an election. His task, to re-enthuse that electorate to the point where it would throw out the government after only one term, was nigh on impossible. Political history argues against it.”

    Have to totally disagree with you here, (recent) political history paints a picture that if this situation were properly managed by the party, it could have turned a negative around reasonably quickly.

    Take for example what happened last year after the British election. The UKLP held a reasonably open leadership election and managed to engage many many thousands of Britons in the process (including signing up 50,000 new members) and quickly managed to look like a credible alternative to the coalition.

    Given how badly the UKLP had been doing under Gordon Brown’s lifeless leadership, few would have expected that.

    Another, very different example of political rebirth after a landslide defeat would be the massive gains made by the GOP in the US last year, but that’s another comment entirely…

  12. “I’m not an expert on polls, other than to say that it’s the trend that matters rather than the individual poll. However, in recent elections the polls have got it pretty well right.”

    That’s right. However I think the closer the election gets, the less people are undecided – we are a wee way out at the moment. I also feel that a bad poll could be behind a no-show for supporters of a failing party. No one wants to back a loser… and party supporters can withhold support for an unpopular leader. Bad polling can create bad voting.

    Labour need to inoculate against these polls. National need to celebrate them.

    If they are to win, Labour also need to figure out what the hell they are doing. I don’t have a clue. Mixed, weak, and confused messages are no way to fight National who have no idea how to fix the country, but are brilliant at running their campaign.

  13. “Phil does not have charisma.” I my view, this says it all, Brian. You know better than most about the ‘reductive’ power of television. And Phil just does not ‘work’ on TV. So, as a political leader in the 21st century, he’s toast. Sad, but true. He can hang on, keep punching, go through the motions, and take the ship down with him, or he can do the decent thing ad step aside, at the right time, and maybe limit the damage? Tough ask for any politican, but this is the real test of Phil Goff, to my mind, can he put the party and the country ahead of his own ambition and ego?

  14. @ gingercrush/BE on 1996 election

    Most Journalists got the 1996 general election utterly wrong. They argued it represented a clear swing in public opinion to the Left, the mood of the nation thwarted only by Peters’ dodgy deal with Bolger.

    The usual narrative is that National slowly lost support throughout the 1990s and that this is obvious because it became harder and harder for them to form a government. They won handsomely in 1990, just managed to squeak in at the following (1993) election and were then forced to rely entirely on Winston Peters’ benevolence to hold onto office in 96.

    The reality: Huge swing to the Left in 1993 (National plummets 13 percentage points) / mild swing back to the Right in 1996.

    As much as I would have liked a Centre-Left government, the fact is Peters went with the swing. Ironically, the media’s misinterpretation created – or at least reinforced – a widespread feeling that the post-1996 Bolger government was illegitimate, sealing the Nats’ fate in 99.

  15. The public should realise soon that the emperor has no clothes.National continue to dig a hole for themselves .I think that some media savy advice would go far to improve Goffs standing in public.I agree that he is a genuine individual who beleives in what hes doing,something that Key appears not to do.Although I find Don Brash’s politics difficult to stomach ,at least he seems sincere about what he says ,something Key lacks.Either the public are more gullable than I think .or the polls are not telling the true story.

  16. pjr- i think you may be the one feeling the draught.
    we’re talking about phil and as nice as he is, he has to pretend a tv persona and it doesn’t come off. he hasn’t got that inborn charisma. if you could put together winston’s charisma and goff’s ethics, you’d have a winner.

  17. rarely, charisma and ethics don’t cancel eachother out.

  18. bje its something I consider someone like Brian could address.As stated above in his comment about Helen.

  19. Being politics, I don’t quite see this as “a personal tragedy”. It’s more of a huge disappointment that comes with “lost opportunity”; the stars have never been correctly aligned for Goff. And with all the bad-news stuff, it is a little sad to see him reduced to a shard of his former confident self.

    Goff just doesn’t come across as very telegenic-friendly. He is as you have described: “stiff, wooden, robotic, uncomfortable, ill-at-ease, stern, censorious, lecturing, occasionally irritable, occasionally sour”.

    It does seem like a very harsh assessment. But Goff appears as either a part or an amalgam of all those descriptions at any given interview. He, most certainly, would have benefited from some media guidance in front of the TV press. He needs to relax by making the odd fluff and then laughing it off, it will help to soften the rigidity of his persona. But he’s always so serious, edgy and unyielding defensive; making him appear imperious and aloof rather than engaging.

    This has been a very real handicap when trying to sell himself as the Leader of the Labour Party, yet alone, a PM-in-waiting. Moreso, when there’s no real fresh talent to drive the self-
    reformation that’s required to articulate a new Labour Party vision.

    When there are no compensatory factors or backstops, perceived personality impediments become even more magnified. And, worse still, they will take the form of a damaging ectoplasm that moves across and affects the whole party.

  20. The current Labour party is exactly like National was immediately post-Muldoon – they all sold their souls to a “glorious leader”, lived through a bunch of lies and deceits, and none of them know who they are any more (if they ever did).

  21. You forgot to mention how enthusiastic he was for neocon policies, which have brought financial disaster to much of the the world.

  22. amazing how politics has been almost entirely reduced to personalities.You would think having some resonating policy could help.Key and the Nats have no game,borrow and hope,bash beneficiaries and build a bicycle track.

  23. L Speirs sums it up well but I would like to add Tax cuts for the wealthy,Increase in GST,mates rates to TV3, and attempted destruction of education by a minister who knows little about it.L Speirs is right,Phil Goffs charisma should be the least of the Nats worries.

  24. If phil is robotic, what is Brash? A zombie?

  25. L Speirs sums it up well but I would like to add Tax cuts for the wealthy,Increase in GST,mates rates to TV3, and attempted destruction of education by a minister who knows little about it.

    OK, PJR, and I’ll retort that Phil Goff voted to raise GST from 10% to 12.5% (after promising not to do so in 1987), voted for the set up that is seeing TVNZ7′s funding come to an end, and introduced student loans while Education Minister.

    Oh, and perhaps the reason why Labour isn’t going hot and heavy on the eye-watering revelations about the SAS is because, once again, Goff himself is every bit as compromised. It’s a bit tricky accusing the Prime Minister and Defence Minister of flat out lying to New Zealanders when Labour’s own record is just as squalid.

  26. I agree Craig ,Labour has dissapointed me with its policies ,although I tend to ignore the Roger Douglas era which was an extremely well organised right wing plot to redistribute the country’s wealth and power.Goff needs to forget about that and concentrate on undoing the havoc these policies have wrought on our country.

  27. I don’t think Phil Goff can recover. From what I have seen of him he appears incapable of listening to things he is being told.
    I happened to be at the Hawkes Bay A&P show last year when he visited. They were having a competition on how fast you could cook an omelette. He and Stuart Nash had a light-hearted go.
    Now neither of them were likely to make it as Chef’s but so what. I don’t regard that as a necessary skill in a politician. One only has to thing of David Lange or Don Brash’s culinary mishaps.
    What struck me about Phil was that he appeared to be completely deaf to advice. He was told how to cook an omelette. He was then shown how to cook and omelette. He then had a go and simply took no notice of what he had been told and shown. While he was trying to do it he was told again what to do, which againn was ignored.
    As I said I don’t care that he can’t cook. What scares me is that he can’t seem to take advice and that in a politician really worries me.
    I don’t think anyone can fix his ways now.

  28. Check out the nice piece in the latest Metro for some fantastic analysis by Patrick Gower of the Labour’s bind – Goff’s hopeless position and the gamble of “The Plan”.

    The article’s lead photo of the Labour Crew is bizarre…they look like a pack of anxious baboons…Mallard and Horomia…priceless. Give the Metro Picture Editor a raise.

  29. Charisma is important in a politician but not essential. There are plenty of examples around the world of charismatic politicians failing…Churchill was tipped after arguably pulling the UK through WW2 and John Howard makes Goff look exciting but won elections. If Key and Goff swapped sides Goff would romp home in November despite Key’s “popularity’. Goff’s problem is he is on the right wing of a left wing party dominated by increasingly redundant trade unionists and an influential feminist/lesbian group neither of whom are attractive to middle NZers. To coin a phrase ‘Goff will be gone by lunchtime’. More importantly having to accommodate under MMP some of the economically wacky Green and ACT policies plus divisive Maori demands leads to continual compromise and indecisive government and coupled with a weakened Labour party could lead to the demise of MMP..

  30. (1) I wonder if anyone has tried to discern (or ‘diagnose’) the personality-types of ‘The Goffice’ and ‘Old Smile and Wave’ using the Jungian Briggs-Meyers typology ?

    Gordon Brown in the UK was apparently considered an INTP, David Cameron possibly an ENFP. Wonder what Goff and Key are ?

    (2) “You lot are almost as sleazy and squalid as we are !!!” – Not necessarily the most impressive defence from a Nat loyalist, Craig.

  31. 31

    In the last election both parties campaigned on largely interchangable centrist platforms that personalities were the only thing many people could vote on. Even though National’s true colours are coming out now, Key has a kind of charismatic appeal (if you’re a sucker for that sort of thing) vital in our soundbite media-mediated age. Labour under TV-incompatable Goff has been reduced to doing nothing but reacting (and not particularly effectively) to National’s gaffs. Where are Labour’s policies? The outcome does not look good for the Centre-Left, sadly.

  32. 32

    Goff should challenge Brash to a debate on the economy early next month. Say that Brash will be the guy running economic policy after the election so would prefer to deal with him directly.

  33. Keys Wall St background is really coming out now as he ramps up debt and grooms NZ’ ers for an asset sale of its infrastructure.The lessons of the 80′s have not been learned.

  34. markus:

    (2) “You lot are almost as sleazy and squalid as we are !!!” – Not necessarily the most impressive defence from a Nat loyalist, Craig.

    Please go and buy the latest issue of Metro, read Jon Stephenson’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and tell me what exactly I should be defending?

    Back to the topic of this post, it’s pretty hard for Goff to attack the Government when, so often, his own record exposes him as a flat out hypocrite.

  35. And the final nail in the Labour/Greens/Hone/Winston coalition coffin must surely be the National contrived replacement of Rodney Hide. Gone all the potential opportunities for Labour and it’s coalition partners in Auckland electorates to attack ACT and Rodney over his handling of the setting up of the Super City, the blowing of his perk buster image, the disgraceful way he handled Heather Roy, etc. Phil will no doubt be fed some spin on this, but like all the previous spin he’s fed he will look carping and petulant. Nice chap, by all accounts, but his nasty negative kneejerk responses employed since the day he took over have really killed things for him. The day he comes out with something positive, will be the day his worm will rise.

  36. Craig Ranapia has been running the same line for ever. Everytime you see him popping up with his wearisome “they are all as bad as each other but somehow National isn’t” just yell “BINGO”!

    It really does work.

  37. Tom Semmens ( or is it Sanctuary):

    Go away. Seriously. I’m sorry if making factual statements about Phil Goff’s own voting record offends you, but that’s your problem not mine.

    And, yes — I don’t really like the thought of ANY government of this country (and the Governor General designate) not only being complicit in handing over foreign nationals to torturers, but lying about it. Repeatedly. For almost a decade.

    Question is, Tom, why aren’t you?

    Finally, Tom, politicians are perfectly entitled to change their minds — whether from principle or sheer expediency. But what you’re not entitled to do, and what Goff does habitually, is pretend he never changed it at all. Raising GST is evil, except when Labour does it. Asset sales are evil, except when Labour does it. On and on and on.

    Politicians who treat voters like they’re senile find that the disrespect gets repaid, with interest. And I’ve got no sympathy at all.

  38. Tom (or should I call you Sanctuary?):

    Sorry if making factual statements offends you. Deal with it.

  39. 39

    Craig- I’m only 33, so I doubt that I’m senile enough to forget that the only reason Labour had to sell assets in the 80′s was because they were handed a bankrupt country by Muldoon. Ultimately National ruined this country, and we are still paying for it, and there is no arguing against that, deal with that factual statement.I find it a puzzling elephant in the room that almost never gets mentioned. Its simply what happened. However, in labours sop to the right aka centrist politics, I don’t agree with the privatisation of the power companies, which has seen nothing but price gouging ever since. As usual, the myth that private companies are necessarily more efficient, clung to by the devotees of scientology-esque cult of economic libertarianism, is disproved by reality. However there are far more cult worshippers of this retarded and obviously flawed ideology on the national party’s side of the house. Essentially National has always been and always will be there to make its rich mates richer and little else. The only reason they get away with it is because of a shameless dishonesty and clever political manipulation, and kiwi political apathy and ignorance. I must admit however, that although I prefer labour to national, I do think both parties, and the political system itself, are ultimately corrupt. As for goff, well,I certainly trust him a lot further than I could kick that little sleaze bag john key. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could actually turn the debate to policy rather than the usual sound bite media side show popularity contest, if that were to happen, labour would certainly win.

  40. you seem to forget that it was Helen Clark who bribed the students (and because of that, just scraped in, in 2003) to get their vote by the student loan scheme. NZ is now awash in a growing mountain of debt, because of her venal and cynical recklessness.

  41. 41

    Raoul, charging interest, and thereby profiting from, 18 year-olds fresh out of high school, who have little or no understanding of finances, and saddling them with debt in order for them to get an education, is immoral. We had one of the best and I might add, free education systems in the world in this country, before we went broke because of Muldoons ridiculous reign and the slow decline of our economy that resulted from the selling off of all our assets, there were no student loans, before national. Thats not a bribe, thats simply mitigating a system that is wrong in the first place, National on the other hand bribed its way in to power with the promise of tax cuts, which in effect only went to the wealthiest and least needy in society. The reason Labour was in for so long was because the national party failed to produce anything but laughable candidates. Nationals approach has been to appeal to peoples greed, ie tax cuts and racism, i.e. brashes Orewa speech… In fact the main reason we are in such a dire position, we had a surplus under labour, the first for decades, before John keys international banker mates ripped off the entire world economy, and free market capitalism had to be bailed out by the tax payer. =(Laissez faire, unregulated economic fascism bailed out by democratic socialism) Please abstain from commenting until you have something worth saying. Your charge of a bribe, if indeed it could have been an effective one because it benefited only students (and perhaps their parents who didn’t want to see them saddled in decades of debt) is in fact a correction or a mitigation of an unfair loans system, and pales in comparison to Nationals straight out appeal to peoples greed in the face of an insufficient tax take and world economy in dire straights in the most recent election. It appears you have a very selective memory. The ignorance and the irrelevance of that sound byte like statement is appalling and typical of those who tout the ridiculous libertarian right wing religion in the face of all real world evidence to the contrary. If you really want to get this country in to shape. tax those who can most afford it, and have most profited from the society we have all built over the generations, and with out which no such wealth could exist in the first place. Yes my right wing friends… I know its blasphemy in your eyes, but if the bills aren’t being met, increase the tax take from those who can afford it. Its that simple. The terrible irony is that those who can most afford it are the most financially literate, and aren’t really paying much tax at all, thanks to trust accounts and off shore accounts. The only way to fix the economy is to redistribute a portion of wealth from the top to the bottom. As we all know, wealth pours up anyway, it doesn’t ” trickle down ” except when the wealthy manipulate the democratic system and laugh all the way to the bank, metaphorically pissing on the “braying masses” (libertarian speak for everyone else and democratic government). Your out of your depth son. Best keep quiet.

  42. 42

    In a nut shell, according to above poster mitigating an unfair student loan system (profiting from young students) = bribe, Tax cuts for the rich at a time when we are in an economic downturn and New Zealands treasury coffers are undernourished = what may I ask? Conclusion: Raouls statement = Laughably inaccurate, biased, intellectually dishonest. Typical of right wing ideologues. Don’t let reality get in the way of a treasured belief system.

    Who is John key anyway? you think he could ever stand up to a grilling like this? Has he ever shown himself in the media other than through pathetic little magazine style news programmes with his mates like Paul Henry? No Key pretty much works for the guys that ripped off the world, and anyone with their eyes open knows it.

    Check out a real leader, Icelands Prime minister:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-gHdFhgdC8&NR=1

    Iceland: Bankrupted by the ridiculous and corrupt fraud of the international banking community. What’s the answer? clean house, and regulate. Tax payer begrudgingly shoulders burden to pay debt caused by fraudulent and brazenly greedy practices of the wealthy financial elite, once again.
    I wish we had such an intelligent, honest, and humble leader. This guy makes joh key, Hide, douglas et al look like spineless little rodents.

  43. 43

    anna merryweather

    Ok three strikes? means you’re out right. A government that sells national resources to foreign companys e.g. east coast oil to Petrobras. A leader who is charismatic but doesn’t have the balls to meet the families of the Pike river disaster but has time to cook sausages over the barbie with Prince William. A party that slants Hone Harwira’s political resignation and construction of a new party as a stunt but warmly welcomes Brash back as ACT leader UN-elected. Please give a rebuttal.