The precedence for coups just before elections

With Phil Goff’s approval ratings somewhere near absolute zero Labour MPs worried about having a job after the election are thinking about rolling Phil Goff to get someone who might lift their poll numbers. It won’t be the first time a Labour Party has rolled their leader just before an election.

In 1990 Mike Moore became Prime Minister on the 4th of September. The election was the 2nd of November. That election was a fantastic birthday present for me and I well remember the party afterwards

Mike got a hiding but that was not really Mikes doing, he took one for the team and nearly came back to win in 1993, when no one expected him to get anywhere near Jim Bolger. In a 99 seat house Bolger only had 50 MPs, so Labour had to lend Bolger Peter Tapsell to be the speaker. This was a pretty reasonable effort after National had a majority of 38 in 1990, and there was silly talk of the death of the Labour Party.

In Australia the faceless men axed Kevin Rudd with characteristic speed when they worked out they would lose the next election. Gillard took over on 24th of June 2010, and had an election on 21st of August. Labour just managed to hold power in a minority government, which was a big improvement on what Rudd was expected to do for them.

So if the polls tank further for Goff a change could come at any stage up until the end of September. It is common knowledge that the coup was bottled after Goff mishandled the Darren Hughes Underpants Stealing Situation, and the very nasty tactics from the Goffice caused massive internal issues. Seedy stories in the Sunday Star Times about an opponent’s rooting is never a good look.

Will Phil be gone this weekend? Or will he or Labour’s caucus wait for another pasting in the TVNZ poll first?

They could gamble that TVNZ’s poll will show the opposite of Roy Morgan and 3News, or knife him and declare the poll as obsolete because changes have been made. If TVNZ’s poll is bad for Goff, then it will show the CGT hasn’t helped. If they roll him, and it’s bad for Goff then they can blame the poll result on Goff rather than the CGT. If it’s good for Goff and they roll him this weekend, they can say it was the CGT, and not Goff that caused the lift.

Big choices, big gambles for Labour. Have they got the nuts for it? My understanding is that the coup team is waiting on advance notice of the TVNZ poll on when to make the move.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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