I/S looks at the strategy behind Goff’s dogwhistle:
Despite Labour’s dear wishes, the Maori Party is not going to go away. Instead, it looks likely to be a permanent feature of our political landscape. More importantly, it looks to be setting itself up as the swing bloc which makes or breaks governments. That’s certainly likely to be the case at the next election, unless the government really screws up. What this means is that if Labour wants to regain power, it will have to sit across the table from and work with the Maori Party. And that will simply be impossible if they are running on a racist platform.
I’m not convinced of the permanence of the Maori Party and I think they’d go into coalition with a nest of poisonous spiders if the funnel-web threw in a couple of crown limos and some mana-enhancing overseas trips, so I don’t think this rules out a future Labour-Maori coalition. The long term risk is that Labour will lose support – in 2008 hundreds tens of thousands of Maori voters gave their electorate votes to the Maori Party while their party vote went to Labour – but the most immediate cost is that the Maori party and National have sold out Maori with the ETS; Goff’s transparent, desperate ploy for the redneck vote means he’ll be handicapped when he tries to point this out: Sharples and Turia can simply dismiss the attacks and respond that ‘Goff’s playing the race card again.’
This is turning into a trend with Goff. Earlier in the year the government was vulnerable to criticism around welfare entitlement until Goff argued that a millionaire property owner who happened to live in John Key’s electorate should be eligible for the dole, a self-inflicted wound that precluded Labour from making any legitimate points on the subject. He’s just made an identical error with the ETS.
I really don’t see how a politician as experienced as Goff could make such an obvious mistake (or how a Labour leader could have such little confidence in the values his party is supposed to represent). But I also struggle to conceive how people as canny as John Key and Nick Smith could introduce legislation as awful as their Emissions Trading Scheme. Our political class seems desperately mediocre right now.