Rumours suggesting that former Labour MP Shane Jones will stand for New Zealand First in Whangarei in the next election received another airing over the weekend.
From the Herald:
Shane Jones created a lot of buzz at the New Zealand First conference over the weekend, despite not being in attendance.
The former Labour MP is heavily tipped to leave the diplomatic corps and stand for NZ First against a National MP in Whangarei.
His name was put to Winston Peters’ media stand-ups.
Peters didn’t seem annoyed. In fact, he named Whangarei as a seat they would likely target next year.
Peters attempted to resile from what may have been a blunder with a typically belligerent display on Morning Report this morning and refused to confirm that Jones was being considered. Specifically he said:
We have to find, two things, the team locally to do the job, and the standout candidate to pull it off.
Well you know the diplomatic core is independent, Shane Jones is a diplomat, representing our country very well in a critical job in the Pacific.”
When Jones was a member of the Labour Party he had a somewhat contradictory position, claiming that Labour needed to be a broader church but then stating that if Labour formed a coalition with the Greens he would walk away from the party. It appeared that for Jones a broad church did not include people concerned about the environment.
His means of exiting the party would attract attention in some jurisdictions. A Government creating a well paid job involving the continuous touring of the Pacific and a Diplomatic Passport and offering the job to an opposition MP and causing them to resign would cause official investigations in other countries. Who wouldn’t accept such a job opportunity? But should public money be used for this purpose?
Clearly Jones would be more comfortable in New Zealand First because of his environmental views. And he could cause problems for National in Whangarei although at the last election National’s Shane Reti won the seat with a 13,169 majority and New Zealand First polled third in the party vote. Interestingly the result was not too different to the result in Northland although Reti’s majority was greater than Mike Sabin’s.
New Zealand First will be running a provincial focused campaign and attempting to dig into a deep vein of resentment that is building. If Jones runs he could benefit from this. But the history of New Zealand First does not instill confidence. The last two times it was in government it propped up last term governments. And I can’t see how a Labour-Green-New Zealand First government would work.
Interesting times …