You may have noticed that this blog has been a 'Darren Hughes Free Zone'.

There's a reason for that. The whole affair has bored me silly. While the Hughes affair has been gold for our increasingly tabloid media, I'm not much interested in what Hughes or any other politician get up to in their private lives. And it'll be the up to the legal beagles to decide whether or not Hughes has a criminal charge to answer.

So I haven't spent a lot of time reading the torrent of articles and opinion pieces on Mr Hughes.

I've been tempted to write off the Hughes affair as a load of 'sound and fury signifying nothing', but what has been interesting is the way that Hughes' late night antics have undermined the leadership of Phil Goff.

Goff has been criticised from both within and outside the Labour Party over his handling of the affair. Goff kept details of the police investigation secret for more than two weeks and Hughes only went public after the story broke in the media.

Depending on who you believe Goff will be removed as leader within a few weeks, especially if the opinion polls continue to show Labour failing to make any headway against the Government. Or he will stagger on to a November election defeat because there is no obvious successor.

One thing is for certain though. Goff won't be shown the door, either before the election or after it, because he remains an unreconstructed neoliberal politician flogging failed and discredited policies.

There is no opposition within Labour to Goff's neoliberalism. His crime is that, in a time of economic crisis, he has comprehensively failed to improve Labour's political fortunes.

According to the NZ Herald:

There is already widespread angst within Labour at Goff's inability to make traction against a hugely popular prime minister and a government that should be vulnerable on many fronts, including the economy and spending cuts.

Labour Party members fear that Goff will lead them to a 2002 scenario, when Bill English led National to its worst defeat.

Such is Labour's degeneration that there is no recognition from either its MPs or its party functionaries that Labour has failed to be an effective parliamentary opposition because it has failed to offer an economic alternative to the neoliberal policies of the National-led Government.

An alternative is surely another path, a different way, a choice. But Labour has no alternative idea to offer. Indeed it also believes that the working class has to pay for a economic crisis that it is not responsible for.

Such is Labour's timidity, its lack of vision, its lack of imagination and its reactionary defence of the status quo, that it cannot envisage a New Zealand that isn't beholden to the demands of the 'free market'. It is still joined at the hip to the ideology of neoliberalism and that's why it has been such a feeble opposition.

Changing leaders won't alter that fact.


  1. There's little chance of Labour breaking with neoliberalism, with or without Goff. Anyone for Parker or Cunliffe?

  2. I'm not sure a Labour defeat is as inevitable as you suggest, Steve. Perhaps you are letting your hostility to Labour cloud your view. (I can remember you campaigning for Labour out at Canterbury Uni in 1983. Didn't you cross swords with Nick Smith?)

    The economy can only continue to worsen and the spending cuts will be hitting hard. Labour has to capitalise on this but, I agree, it has to provide a clear alternative.

    The people I talk to aren't happy with the Nats but, at the same time, they don't know what Labour stands for.

    I don't think they will vote Labour if it just continues to mirror the policies of Nats, except with a little less ferocity.

  3. Ah, university days. Nick Smith was President of the Young Nats when I was Pres of the Labour Club.

    To think I actually campaigned for the likes of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble..and Phil Goff. The shame..

  4. Time for Parker to take over and the party to get a strong set of policies and get mobilised. No one things Goff is a good leader, or can win, or has a vision. Labour needs to be about unions, workers, families and have policies to deal with the problems of the day.

    Time for Labour to drop Goff and neoliberalism.


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