This seems familiar…

Lord Kinnock, the longest serving leader of the opposition in the UK, weighs in on Ed Miliband’s current leadership problems… (The Independent)

In an intervention that was intended to help Mr Miliband, but may fuel the debate over the Labour leader’s performance after his unhappy start to the new year, Lord Kinnock said: “In politics, division carries the death penalty and they [the critics] must learn that because in the end it’s their own chests they will stab as well as the back of the leader of the party. And that is true in government and in opposition. It’s true on the right and on the left. And if they don’t comprehend that, they don’t understand anything at all.”

Lord Kinnock was speaking to Steve Richards, chief political commentator of The Independent, in an interview for today’s The Week in Westminster programme on BBC Radio 4.

Of critics in the media, he said: “If they are going to attack Ed, let it be on issues of substance … on policy rather than stupid things like: he is ugly, or is he a geek or did he commit fratricide – all of which are entirely irrelevant but constitute the main coverage of Ed Miliband.”

Of course, this is all too familiar for NZ Labour. I am convinced that the constant doubts around Goff’s leadership, particularly throughout 2011, was probably the major reason for Labour’s vote collapsing from the mid 30s to 27%.

While it is inevitable, and perfectly valid, that Goff’s own failings as a leader are considered – you also have to take into account the other problem. There were those in caucus who were actively undermining the leadership, but without the guts to follow through and mount a leadership challenge. If there had been a leadership challenge in February or March 2011, history may have been very different indeed.

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