Phil?s gone. For Labour to have a chance, he shouldn?t be the last

One of Parliament’s longest serving troughers?has left the building. Phil Goff has finished up his lacklustre parliamentary career at last.

After 30 years as an MP Phil Goff has left the building?with farewell?hugs from his colleagues Annette King, Andrew Little and David Shearer and a sort of slightly awkward half-man-hug from Prime Minister John Key.

The incoming mayor of Auckland said his farewells to Parliament?on Tuesday with special mention for “the Holy City of Mt Roskill” he had represented for so long.

He also warned?Cabinet ministers opposite “you have not, I promise seen the last of me,” as he prepares for his new life lobbying Government?on behalf of Auckland.

Good luck with that Phil.

Earlier in the day, after?a final lunch at Bellamy’s cafe?where he has been a regular, Goff threatened his final speech would not be funny.

But for an MP not known for his public levity it had its moments -?though there were?also reminders of tragedy as he recalled how his nephew Matthew Ferrara?was the first Kiwi to die in Afghanistan, fighting in the US military, after he became defence minister.

I wonder if he thought, just for a moment, about all those soldiers whose faces he spat in in the 70s when they returned from their service in Vietnam?

He recalled his maiden speech in 1981 – six months after he was elected because?it took that long in those days to call Parliament?together – and of his family history that shaped him, especially the struggles of his maternal grandmother Jessie.

He had learned from her that Labour Prime Minister?Michael Joseph Savage was “a saint”.

No, he wasn’t. He was a weird little man.

He dwelt?on his time as a minister of education, defence and foreign affairs and the difficulties?of the Lange Government from 1984 to 1990 – and the record he still holds as the youngest NZ minister at age 31.

However, he?skated around the difficult Clark years?when he became the de-facto leader of the right faction (when “barbecue at Phil’s place” became a euphemism for a looming coup)?and the long years in opposition since then with several leadership changes that saw him finally take the reins in 2008 only to step down in 2011 after the inevitable defeat.

It was a crushing defeat only made to look good once?David Cunliffe had delivered his.

If Labour are to increase their vote there needs to be more renewal. That doesn’t seem likely with dead wood junking up the place, from Annette King on down. Unfortunately their renewal is probably going to come at the expense of the sensible people in Labour’s caucus which will make way for the lunatic fringe and unionists.


– Fairfax