The NZ Labour Party never loses elections to the Nats. They lose it to the Enrolled Non Vote. Nat voters always vote. Old people, conservative in their dotage, always vote. The more left-leaning voters, the poor, the students, either don't enrol or don't turn up at the polling booths unless they are prodded. Labour's challenge this year is not to lose to apathy.
Losing badly in 2011 would make the chances of winning in 2014 that much harder to bridge. With Goff at the helm, 2011 will be a bloody shipwreck for Labour, unrestrained support from his front bench not withstanding. The chances of getting new blood in will be near impossible. As it is, I can see several Labour electorates at risk of falling to the Nats this election, Rimutaka being one that springs readily to mind.
The big question of course is who then if not Goff? It's way too soon for the serious contenders to make their move, therefore some stunt clown is required. Up until today, I had thought that only David Parker had the remotest chance of cauterising Labour's likely love lost. Then David Farrar mentions Trevor Mallard.
After the initial Yeah Right, it sank in. Tick on name recognition (I fear David Parker would be confused in the public mind with Otautahi mayor Bob Parker). Tick on activist recognition (I met Trevor Mallard at a regional conference in Lower Hutt a few years ago. I harangued him on energy policy). Tick on Waitakere Man. The Rugby World Cup used to be his baby.
Trevor Mallard started the Red Alert blog, which has provided a better communication tool between Labour's parliamentary wing and the outside world than any other media platform at the party's disposal. He is prepared to take chances. Speaking of which, being Leader of the Opposition might stop him from going on quite so many lunatic bike races. Consider it harm minimisation all around.