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Short of flatly dismissing the question about his likely role in the wake of a Labour election loss, Goff hedged his reply with every possible caution : that he wasn’t being defeatist to consider the possibility of a Labour loss ( realistic, given that National is 27 points ahead in latest polling) that Helen Clark stands head and shoulders above John Key in leadership ability , that no forced leadership change would subsequently occur and that the choice of any new leader in such circumstances would not be his call.
Media verdict – a leadership split in Labour’s ranks ! A gaffe, an unwelcome distraction ! And when Goff denied the beat-up…. Goff Turns Clobbering Machine On, screamed the Herald.
And the media wonders why it is held in contempt. If this incident is a signal the mainstream media has suddenly developed an appetite for parsing the subtexts of political statements, and rooting out possible contradictory signals they would have been better employed parsing John Key.
In just the last week, Key had been talking up tax cuts for middle income earners north of $50 a week, then claiming to have been misquoted. He then told RNZ this morning ( after the IMF warned about the inflationary impact of tax cuts) that he’d always said tax cuts should be ‘phased in.” So which is it? Massive tax cuts affordable this year ? Or tax cuts phased in, which leaves us none the wiser about the level of tax cuts this year that National thinks is compatible with sound economic management. If Key knows, he wasn’t saying, and no one was asking.