Busted Blonde is speculating that a delegation of concerned Labour backbenchers might be about to make an approach to Phil Goff, but Whaleoil’s spies indicate the situation is developing more slowly and is more nuanced.
Yes, it is true that TIFKAG’s latest Tizard gaffe has united the Labour Party against him, but the approach will come following the next TV3 poll, if it confirms yet again that Goff is making no progress against John Key.
The situation, as was obvious immediately following the election, is that the Clark faction (including Ruth Dyson, Chris Carter, Maryan Street, David Parker, Brian Edwards, Darren Hughes, Trevor Mallard, Lianne Dalziel and Pete Hodgson) has been working consistently to spike Phil-in’s chances of becoming prime minister with their smooth (and illusionary) handover of power before Christmas. Tracey Watkins documented how harmful to Labour the smooth handover has been in the short run, and this was intentional. The Clark plan was to give Phil-in no excuses when he failed to fire in the polls, as she predicted. As usual, the Clark faction was thinking longer term, acting more strategically and basically managing the politics better than their rivals. Phil-in forgot the first rule of Labour Party politics that nothing he does – even winning an election, becoming prime minister and making them ministers – will ever make the Clark faction genuinely support him.
On the other side of the party, while that Clark faction was pretending to support Phil-in, his real support came from the old Labour right – Annette King, Clayton Cosgrove (the star performer since the election), Rick Barker, Ross Robertson, George Hawkins and Ashraf Choudhary. They have been joined by the careerist Shane Jones.
The newcomers, including Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Clare Curran and Stuart Nash tend to be Clark loyalists and Rainbow sector. But, just like the new National MPs elected in 2002 and 2005, the newcomers aren’t so worried about the battles of the past, but are mainly concerned with winning power. If Goff was showing political skill, they would back him – otherwise they’ll back someone else, Clarkist or Rightist, whoever will win votes.
Goff’s poor performance since becoming leader was slowly moving the newcomers back towards their natural home with the Clarkists and gays, and the necessary conversations to plan a coup were underway. But Goff could still rely on the support of the old right. Now, his backing of Tizard has got them prepared to talk to the Clarkists and the newcomers. Grant Robertson, who learned his political skills from Clark as her Deputy Chief of Staff, but is not as loyal to her as some assume, is acting as an go between given the files on each MP he has inherited from Heather Simpson.
It will not be long before Phil-in and King get a surprise delegation from Mallard, Street, Cosgrove, Jones, Robertson and Curran. Planning for the approach is already underway. Busted Blonde has probably just heard one side of the story and doesn’t understand the full picture as well as WOBH.
The import thing is though that the whispering has started and it isn’t very discreet.