With Phil Goff and the Labour Party unable to make any real headway in the opinion polls, the venal politics of the Maori Party were just sitting there waiting to be hit.
And Battlin' Phil Goff came out of the red corner this week and delivered a few swift and calculated punches that, while they not have won him the fight, have succeeded in raising Goff's profile in the media.
Goff, of course, took aim at the cosy and cynical deal between the Maori Party and National Party that saw some 35,0000 acres of public land given to the Maori corporate elite and some $25-50 million handed over to that same elite to secure the passage of the Government’s shonky Emissions Trading Scheme.
This deal will only benefit, as Goff pointed out, the Maori tribal elite and, once again, the Maori working class are left out in the cold - although Maori Party cheerleaders like Willie Jackson would lead you to believe otherwise.
What Phil Goff didn't say though is that the Maori corporate elite - represented in Parliament by the Maori Party, emerged under policies first adopted by the Labour Government of which he was a influential part. It was the fourth Labour Government that began the process of co-opting the newly-emerging Maori elite into the capitalist infrastructure.
We should remember that this Maori elite did not simply pop up under John Key. Indeed the state orchestrated 'bi-culturalism' and the Waitangi settlements process of the last twenty five years or so has created a small but wealthy and influential Maori elite which boasts assets worth some $25 billion - while at the same time the neoliberal economic policies that both Labour and National routinely support have produced high levels of unemployment and poverty and gutted public welfare, education and health services.
And, in 2009, the Maori working class is, like its Pakeha brothers and sisters, on the receiving of a capitalist crisis that it has no responsibility for.
But Goff is not owning up to the failure of neoliberalism. And he never will. He is still a right wing politician after all. His Orewa speech is simply a bid to attract back the Labour support that shifted to John Key at the last election.
With Labour and National's economic policies barely distinguishable from each other (the differences are more emphasis than substance) Goff's attack on the Maori Party and its relationship with National does provide him with a point of difference. And it will, temporarily at least, gave him and Labour a bounce in the opinion polls.
This is not, however, as Labour cheerleader Chris Trotter laughably claims, Goff 'returning his party to its socialist and egalitarian roots'. This is the same Chris Trotter who, just a few short weeks ago, was castigating Goff for denying Labour's social democratic history. Indeed he was calling for Goff to be replaced!
Chris Trotter's puffery can't hide the fact this is just a calculated sidestep from a Labour leader still committed to the neoliberalism that has dominated the Labour Party for a quarter of a century. It's a bit of the old shimmy- shammy from Goff, a bit of ducking and weaving - but, all the while, Goff has not moved politically.
At a 'Drinking Liberally' event at Auckland University this week Goff was probed about Labour's commitment to neoliberalism and the free market.
Goff, while decrying the duplicity of the Maori Party, engaged in some dubious political footwork himself.
According to Goff the only alternative to the free market are 'command economies' and 'show me a command economy that has ever worked.' There you go - 'socialist economics equals command economy' according to Goff.
Can anyone have confidence in a Labour Party leader who arrogantly dismisses socialist economics as a hankering to build a New Zealand equivalent of the North Korean economy - which was one of Richard Prebble's favourite lines, incidentally.
But the man who is 'returning his party to its socialist and egalitarian roots' went on to say that 'the market is the best mechanism to distribute goods' and 'Labour saved capitalism'.
This kind of places Goff's criticisms of the Maori Party into perspective. While attacking the Maori Party - who richly deserve to be caned - he is still not offering any alternative to the failed creed of neoliberalism.