Goff must contemplate taking some risks to make the electorate sit up and take notice. It goes without saying that Phil Goff has a major problem in connecting with voters. More to the point, voters find it difficult to connect with him.
It's not that people dislike him. But they do not warm to him. John Key reads his speeches with all the panache of someone dictating the contents of the telephone directory. Somehow he manages to stir more emotions than a week of Goff's fire and brimstone spectaculars in Parliament.
That's an interesting observation by Armstrong. And in his next few paragraphs he nails Goff's dilemma:
Goff is otherwise a pretty flawless politician. But he sounds like the professional politician whose senses have been dulled by close to three decades in Parliament.
There is no doubting he is genuine in his beliefs and values. What he has trouble doing is convincing his audience of that. Goff's spiel sounds rote and detached.
His phrasing contains all the right words. But somehow the earnestness sounds artificial and forced. It leaves the listener cold. His audience switches off.
Armstrong is dead right, in our always-humble opinion. Goff was first elected to Parliament 30 years ago this year. Apart from a brief hiatus between 1990 and 1993 when he was beaten by Gilbert Myles, he has been there ever since. No amount of spin can change that. He was a follower of Sir Roger Douglas, and a junior then not-so-junior Minister in the Lange/Palmer Moore government of the 1980's. His next incarnation was as a senior Minister in Helen Clark's administration. When he was first elected, Labour's youngest MP Jacinda Arden was one year old!
Therein lies Labour's dilemma. Their senior MP's have been around forever, and the public knows that. Goff has been through so many incarnations (from Rogernome to the saviour of the "many") that it is hard to know where he really sits on the political spectrum. And hair dye can't stop Father Time.
So we reckon that John Armstrong's assessment this morning is pretty much bang on; there is little hope for Labour until it freshens itself up, and clearly that's not going to happen while the likes of Goff, Trevor Mallard and Annette King are in the ascendancy. Labour has made a rod ofr its own back, and Phil Goff is part of the problem, rather than being the solution.