While I know many on here aren’t sad to see Shane go, I think he’s a lost voice for Labour – and we’ll need others to step up into his place.
I also think we might be a little less visceral and personal in our attacks on politicians if we were a little quicker to realise they are human. And if people were more aware of the bad statistics around things like the suicide rate of politicians’ children. (It might also help if politicians were a bit quicker to see the other side as human too, and the media saw politics less as a ‘game’, but something that affects peoples lives)
I can understand Shane’s wanting to go – he’s really taken some blows; his marriage has broken up since he became an MP, he’s apparently got some health concerns, and – hard for him to take – he’s regularly told off by his leader (all of them). Also, it was his supposed destiny that he was meant to be the first Maori PM of New Zealand, and that’s not going to happen; Labour’s members have made that abundantly clear (like most, he was my third choice out of 3…).
All that adds up to losing a bit of the fire in his belly to go through another election cycle, putting himself up warts and all to be judged by us voters. A cushy, well-paid public service job with less daily public judgement has got to be appealing, even if he won’t get to shape how the country is run.
Many of his blows have been self-inflicted, but when he’s at his best – like on Countdown recently – he gets cut-through like few others. He expresses Labour values to a different group of people, in a different way, from most of our activists, and our MPs. In a broad church like Labour we need those different voices. We’re meant to have strength in diversity.
His attacks on the Greens weren’t helpful, but a voice that didn’t embrace the Greens was a fair representation. Yes 70% of Labour supporters (including me) see them as the preferred partner, but that leaves 30% who don’t.
He may not have had good korero with women, but he had good links with the provinces, with Maori, and with business-types. We need to make sure other MPs stand up and continue those conversations with those groups – in their own style.
Shane Jones Media Watch
Incidentally for those worried about Labour focussing on ‘identity politics’ (as some media pundits have said drove Jones out) I’d like them to come up with examples. Marriage Equality was a quick member’s bill (on the same night Labour also got Waitangi and Anzac days Mondayised) and the one other issue this parliamentary term was internal – trying to get Labour’s MPs to represent the gender balance of the population. I notice that there are a large number of very high quality women candidates putting their names forward this year – and I can’t see that as a coincidence.
Meanwhile it was refreshing to hear David Parker this morning talking about issues that actually matter – and hopefully Labour will keep banging on about solutions to NZ’s housing crisis; how we’re going to get Kiwis into jobs, better paid and with better protections; and fixing child poverty and the inequality that feeds it.