I see David Farrar’s retailing the rumour that’s been doing the rounds in Wellington over the last week. I’ll forgive him for trying to pretend it’s some brilliant insight. We all need a bit of self-promotion from time to time.
Anyway, the rumour goes that Shane Jones is in talks with Winston to make the jump from Labour to become Deputy Leader of NZ First. This makes a lot of sense for Jones – he’s to the right of Labour (even to the right of the Shearer camp, I’m told), has a reputation for being a bit un-PC and has the gift of the gab that a leading NZ First politician needs.
As for the substance of the rumour I have no idea whether it’s true. Jones is known to be deeply unhappy with the leadership and the way he’s been treated, especially in light of the fact he voted for Shearer in last year’s leadership contest. There’s talk that his relationship with the Shearer camp has become toxic, particularly after Shearer referred him to the Auditor-General over the Bill Liu affair.
Of course I can’t wait to see the back of Jones. It’s not like he’s achieving much there at the moment anyway, other than needlessly offending Labour’s closest parliamentary ally and misusing his position as a Labour MP to do dodgy PR for the company he used to be chair of. But it’s all about the circumstances in which he goes.
It’s never a good look for the a party leader to have a former senior minister defect to a senior role in a rival political party, and it would raise uncomfortable questions about the political management that allowed it to get to that stage. Coming off the back of the GCSB tape fiasco, Labour can’t afford to have another high profile stuff up that could have easily been prevented.
We can only hope Shearer and his team are working to arrange a decent exit for Jones that allows him to leave on good terms, and that if he does jump it’s managed in a way that doesn’t irreparably sour relations between Labour and NZ First.