John Armstrong 's Opinion

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

John Armstrong: Leaders' debate - Goff turns up the heat

Labour Party leader Phil Goff. Photo / Dean Purcell
Labour Party leader Phil Goff. Photo / Dean Purcell

Chalk this one up to Phil Goff - and not by a small margin.

The Labour leader grabbed control of the debate from early on. John Key was as solid as ever. Goff, however, lit the blow-torch.

The heat went on Key. He did not flinch. But he was forced to defend, defend, defend ... and defend.

Neither was Key's cause assisted by the debate's topics, particularly the lengthy amount of time devoted to discussing what National had done to help the "underclass".

What was both noticeable and notable was that Goff had shifted up a gear or two from the One News debate during the first week of the campaign. He was more assured, confident, focused and relaxed. He looked dangerously prime ministerial.

The "worm" thought likewise. But then this measure of the reactions of the studio audience of 65 supposedly uncommitted voters liked everything Goff said and hated everything Key said. It simply did not ring true. Just how uncommitted were these voters?

The worm was the big loser on the night. It was worse than useless.

- NZ Herald

John Armstrong

John Armstrong is the Herald's chief political commentator

Herald political correspondent John Armstrong has been covering politics at a national level for nearly 30 years. Based in the Press Gallery at Parliament in Wellington, John has worked for the Herald since 1987. John was named Best Columnist at the 2013 Canon Media Awards and was a previous winner of Qantas media awards as best political columnist. Prior to joining the Herald, John worked at Parliament for the New Zealand Press Association. A graduate of Canterbury University's journalism school, John began his career in journalism in 1981 on the Christchurch Star. John has a Masters of Arts degree in political science from Canterbury.

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