Labour's 'New York branch' in bid to roll Goff
Labour's fallout from Darren Hughes’ alleged improprieties is far from over. Rumours are rife of a leadership coup.
Word from inside the party is that the New York branch (aka former leader Helen Clark) has been involved in secret talks over the future of current leader Phil Goff.
Mr Goff has always been considered a temporary head, okay to lead while National is firmly in power, but unlikely to be the next Prime Minister.
Parker, Street, Dyson running numbers
“I am reliably informed that Labour rank and file are planning a challenge to Goff," a well-placed insider told NBR.
"David Parker, Maryan Street and Ruth Dyson – with the approval of the New York office – are gathering numbers to see what can be done,” the source said.
Mr Goff’s handling of the Hughes event was the final straw.
Quake visit a cover?
The Labour Party isn’t commenting on any rumours. But that isn’t stopping the speculation, with sources even questioning the timing of Ms Clark’s recent visit to Christchurch to inspect earthquake damage.
“It struck me as a bit gratuitous," said one party member – who also noted that the timing coincided with the period when Mr Goff would have first learned about the complaint laid to police about Mr Hughes.
Mr Hughes was this week stripped of his responsibilities amid controversy sparked by a complaint to police against him from an 18-year-old male student.
Labour leader Phil Goff had asked Mr Hughes to stand down from his roles as education spokesman and chief whip, pending the outcome of the police inquiry, and Mr Hughes agreed.
Mr Hughes, 32, was one of Labour's rising stars and was only recently promoted to the roles.
Mr Goff has copped criticism over his handling of the matter but defended his decision not to go public with the complaint when he became aware of a fortnight ago.
"Firstly it would not help the police inquiry that was taking place because there would be a storm of controversy around it. Secondly it would not help Darren Hughes himself, who was innocent until proven guilty. And thirdly it would not help the complainant.
"I think that was the right judgment to make."
Others think differently. In the incident, now dubbed Goffgate, Mr Goff has subtly changed his language suggesting now that Mr Hughes no longer has a future with Labour.
“It is very different now that Goff has switched from saying that he will judge Hughes on whether the police proceed with a prosecution to saying that it will be Hughes’s own quality of judgement on the night that decides the matter. A subtle switch I noticed in reporting in the media today. Hughes is gone, we can now safely predict,” a Labour Party member told NBR.
Possible replacements lurk
Rumours have been fuelled by tweeted sightings of the next two Labour list candidates (former MPs Judith Tizard and Mark Burton) in Wellington today – the implication being that replacements are being lined up should Mr Hughes quit. While Ms Tizard is not well-loved by the public she is, regardless, next on Labour's list should any MP depart.
Meanwhile, unresolved allegations have emerged that there was an earlier cover up, during the time Ms Clark was prime minister, involving Mr Hughes and a male staff member of a ministerial office.
iPredict sees Goff gone
As for Mr Goff's future, prediction market iPredict.co.nz is showing massive trading of the stock predicting whether he will depart as Labour leader before the election (the site, which allows real money bets on the rate of politicians, is now to attract so-called "insider traders."
The police investigation into Labour MP Darren Hughes appears to have sparked the frenzy of trading in Mr Goff’s stock.
Yesterday the volume of trades in the stock climbed well over 5000, more than 50 times the average daily volume of just under 96.
And the probability of him departing before the election has risen dramatically.
The stock yesterday fetched a price of 48.3c, representing a 48.3% probability he will finish as leader before the election - up a massive 36c (282.36%) from the opening price.
However, it has since dropped down to about the 30c mark.