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Imperatorfish: Discipline

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, October 23rd, 2012 - 17 comments
Categories: labour, Shane Jones, sustainability - Tags:

Labour MP Shane Jones appeared on TVNZ’s Q&A show over the weekend to debate with Gareth Hughes over plans for a Ross Sea marine reserve.

Despite not being Labour’s spokesperson on conservation or fisheries (he’s not the party’s spokesperson on any issue, after being stood down pending the Auditor General’s investigation of the William Yan matter), Jones appeared to endorse the government’s approach to the marine reserve issue. He made no attempt to distance his own views from the official Labour position.

Labour hasn’t actually determined its position on the issue. So why did Jones appear at all? Did he get clearance from David Shearer before appearing?

Nowadays it seems the only time we hear from Jones is when he is sticking up for his fishing industry mates. He publicly attacked Gareth Hughes over Hughes’ copyright bill, despite Labour supporting it, after taking exception to Greenpeace’s parody of a Sealord ad. And now he has created further awkwardness for his party over fishing issues.

David Shearer’s leadership of Labour would be looking a lot stronger if his MPs were performing well and behaving with discipline, and not opining openly about issues they have no business being involved in. Nothing pisses off the faithful more than listening to their party’s MPs going off-message. Politics may seem complicated, but political communications shouldn’t be. It’s about working out what you have to say and then saying it again and again and again, and being relentless and focused about it. It’s something National has been very good at, and this is why there are so few stories about National MPs putting their feet in their mouths (recent PM brain-fades excepted).

Labour needs a leader who will bring wayward MPs into line, because the voting public will not enthuse over a party that does not have a clear and consistent message. If some MPs won’t accept that then they need to be encouraged to consider their futures.

Perhaps Jones has already decided on his future. It might explain his recent utterances.

17 comments on “Imperatorfish: Discipline ”

  1. One Tāne Huna 1

    MPs must be able to speak their “minds” on any issue – they represent a constituency as well as a party. Unfortunately Jones is obviously in the wrong party, and the media are quite happy to capitalise on that.

    Is the conformity and lack of independent thought of National Party MPs and supporters a good thing to emulate?

    That said, Jones’ behaviour emphasises Shearer’s weakness and lack of leadership.

    • lprent 1.1

      …Jones appeared to endorse the government’s approach to the marine reserve issue. He made no attempt to distance his own views from the official Labour position.

      There are four points about this

      1. Jones is a list MP. He is not a electorate MP. If he has a constituency to represent (and I’m not at all sure that he does apart from the iwi fishing companies) then he should be representing their views inside the Labour policy processes.

      2. If he wants to make a personal statement then he should bloody well label it as such. He should also make it clear why exactly he is making the statement. In this case I suspect it is because he is acting as a PR shill for the iwi fishing companies which would mean that he is in direct conflict between his past role(s) and his current one. And I certainly didn’t hear him say anything that would convince me differently.

      3. It doesn’t look like Labour actually has a policy on this reserve issue which is kind of appalling at this late stage.

      4. As Scott pointed out, I too find it really hard to work for a party that the parliamentary members aren’t coherent. Having MP’s running around like scattered chickens doing their own thing simply makes me want to find a more professional party to support because it wastes effort having frigging prima donnas walking all over the parties messages. Personally I blame this kind of campaign stupidity on parachuted candidates with insufficient campaigning experience. They simply don’t seem to realise exactly how hard it is to shake a reputation of incoherent incompetence once it gets settled in the public’s memory. Probably because most of them weren’t campaigning the last time Labour had a bout of this.

      • One Tāne Huna 1.1.1

        I agree with all of that. Every last word.

        I think the solution is to mend the Labour Party.

        • lprent

          I’d agree that is what needs to happen, the process is hopefully underway, and hopefully it will make the caucus more accountable to the party.

          Problem is that I have other things I’d like to do with my life. I have been waiting for more than 20 years for this process to even start. The glacial pace that is the pace at which the NZLP actually changes anything is now in deep conflict with the changes to my patience levels induced by having a heart attack. I’m not inclined to waste effort doing anything about it apart from making my distaste for fuckwits inside the party visible in public.

          Or the short version – I may be dead before they actually change anything significiant.

  2. BLiP 2


    Third strike.

  3. tc 3

    More mischief making by jones and TVNZ, based on DS performance so far nothing will be done further undermining his credibility to stake a claim on the treasury benches.

  4. gobsmacked 4

    The leader speaks …

    August 15, Herald:

    Mr Shearer yesterday laid down the law to his caucus, telling them to stop getting caught up in “sideshows” after a recess week of ill-discipline and renewed discussion about his leadership.

    … Mr Shearer said the incidents were a distraction and he had given caucus a “rev-up”, telling them he expected only to see public comments about their portfolio areas.

    “I want them to focus on the areas that are of most concern to New Zealand. I do not want them to be focusing on side issues. My message was heard and understood.”


    • One Tāne Huna 4.1

      My message was heard and understood and treated with derision and contempt by Shane Jones.

      FIFY, Dave.

  5. the sprout 5

    Jones is really making shearer look weak and ineffectual. Hardly what’s needed i would have thought.

    • tc 5.1

      Yup plays straight into the Hollowmen’s hands, as designed.

      Way to go Trev and those gutless turncoat MP’s who voted for their safe seats rather than what’s needed to return to gov’t as a major party by electing a leader who can deal with such a flagrant disregard of instructions…again.

      • Olwyn 5.1.1

        I get the impression that this may have something to do with attempting to strengthen the right’s hand in caucus, since in recent weeks the possible return of John Tamihere has also come up. The idea still seems to be to quietly tack to the right, hoping that the left either won’t notice or will dislike National so much that they won’t mind. So perhaps the leeway shown to Jones is a case of “run it up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes it.” The problem is that playing such a game under a less than galvanising leader, at a time when people really are hurting, and really do feel threatened, effectively neuters the party and bewilders potential voters.

  6. Murray McCully declined to appear on the program.  He should not have worried because Jones did a sterling job of presenting the Government position.

    Ruth Dyson is the MP with the relevant responsibility (Conservation).  IMHO Jones stood on her toes and spoke in an area where she has responsibility.  Shearer needs to do something. 

    • Sanctuary 6.1

      “…Ruth Dyson is the MP with the relevant responsibility (Conservation)…”

      The point is politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum and Labour has an enormous one around both effective MPs and its leader.

      Dyson is a complete waste of parliamentary oxygen and has been invisible on any topic for years. The fact is the spokesperson on conservation for Labour is another of the useless feather-bedders who gerrymandered the party list to ensure their survival back in 2011.

      That the media felt it could go to Jones instead of the moribund Dyson, and that he felt he could articulate such a strong view, illustrates just how useless Dyson has been, is currently and on all indications will continue to be. Like Mallard, Street, and Mahuta (amongst others) Dyson should have been sent on her way in the 2011 list and told to work for a Labour victory in 2014 so that she could at least expect profitable employment on the various boards and quangos that are fruits of political patronage for the governing party in this country.

      • tc 6.1.1

        Agree wasn’t Dyson caught double dipping and demoted by helen ? Think you’re a bit harsh on Mahuta who works hard to keep a maori seat where others like Jones can’t win one back.

        Helen’s legacy still lingers on to the Hollowmen’s great satisfaction, especially mallard and King who most I speak to regard as useless troughers.

        The NACT have their share of dead weight but at least they follows orders and STFU rather than get offside with Joyce and the boot camp, who in labour carries a big enough stick.

        • SHG

          who works hard to keep a maori seat

          Holding the Maori seat of Hauraki-Waikato when you’re a Tainui Labour candidate named Mahuta who lives in Ngaruawahia is about as much of an achievement as a white Irish Catholic male named Kennedy winning something in Massachusetts.

          She’s talentless lazy uncharismatic deadwood with as many important achievements on her parliamentary CV as I have.

      • Stephen 6.1.2

        “another of the useless feather-bedders who gerrymandered the party list”

        But she’s the electorate MP for Port Hills? Who actually held on despite a distinct party vote preference for National in that electorate? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Hills_%28New_Zealand_electorate%29

  7. Rogue Trooper 7

    What I caught from the spokeslord; “values” and “Green Priests”
    (hardly an original catch)

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