Chris Carter’s clumsy and self-serving attempt to foment dissent amongst the ranks of the Labour caucus are remarkable but not without precedent. Carter’s brain explosion was never going to end happily for him. Ironically, his irrational behaviour has given the party a rallying point that might actually strengthen Goff’s position as leader – at least for the time being.
Chris Trotter’s commentary last week indicates that the Left have washed their hands of the rogue MP. Trotter’s analysis is right on the button. In the wake of losing power and with the departure of his ally Helen Clark it seems like Carter was left in the political wilderness. Too much time on his hands led to some outlandish excuses for publicly funded travel which was the beginning of his unravelling. Carter’s puerile attempt at payback after being sidelined by Goff earlier this year will not have won him any friends amongst the electorate faithful.
Carter may well have been right about Goff’s inability to front at the next election but that is a moot point. Goff may have more political nous than he is given credit for. With Shane Jones exposed (so to speak) and Carter shamed, there are very few from within the Labour caucus that would be in contention. In the long term, the leadership will be contested by someone who is not yet even an elected MP but who is being quietly groomed for greater things. In the short term Labour may be willing to sacrifice Goff to an election that might be unwinnable irrespective of the leadership. If the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup in October 2011 it will be worth 10 points in the polls to the incumbent government.