The Dim-Post

April 23, 2014

‘I told ya so’ of the day, Shane Jones edition

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:06 am

I got a bit of stick during the Labour leadership contest for my criticism of Shane Jones, so I have to indulge myself a little here. Now that we know this contender for the leadership of the Labour Party was (a) being funded by a senior member of the National Party (b) being funded by NZ Oil and Gas and (c) has left Labour five months out from the election to go and work for the National government, I feel that criticism was validated.

I never saw it, but ‘Jonesy’ must have had a way about him. Almost every senior (male) journalist who went out for beers with him walked away with the notion that ‘the Jones boy’ was going to be our first Maori Prime Minister. And I’ll admit he had a unique style: in a time where most political quotes are cooked up by anonymous staffers, Shane Jones spoke in a voice that was uniquely his own: an odd, nineteenth century mode that often referred to himself in the third person, peppered with latinate tags – just yesterday he denied that Hekia Parata was his ‘benefactrix’. The press gallery – with its usual acumen – decided that speaking like an eccentric Victorian-era Oxford don meant that Jonesy was ‘connecting with working class kiwis’. I never saw any evidence of this. Jones performed poorly as an electorate candidate during multiple elections: actual voters were never as impressed with him as the gallery were. During the Labour leadership campaign Jones’ support among Maori voters was only 37% – which strikes me as shockingly low, considering they’re being offered the chance to endorse a contender for first Maori Prime Minister. It reflects – I suspect – Jonsey’s incredibly low support among female voters across the board.

I guess this is ‘bad for Labour’. It makes them look weak and disorganised, and the gallery will run around wailing that Labour have just lost their brightest star. (I think they’ve lost an undisciplined, waffling misogynist who probably cost them more votes than he ever won.) And it’s good for Grant Robertson, obviously, who may now run for Labour leader unopposed after the election.

 

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79 Comments »

  1. FWIW – at the leadership meeting I went to Jones definitely connected best with the blue collar guys sitting in the row behind me.

    The line that received the most spontaneous murmurings of assent from the crowd was Jones criticising the performance and discipline of the Labour caucus, something that Cunliffe and Robertson didn’t do.

    Comment by Oh Busby — April 23, 2014 @ 7:21 am

  2. Shane Jones would have generously – and inevitably – contributed free headlines for Labour’s opponents during the election campaign. Of course he can still do this from the sidelines, but now Cunliffe won’t have to put on a fixed grin and insist that “Shane remains a valuable member of the team” or some such platitude, while silently seething.

    In short: for this relief, much thanks.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — April 23, 2014 @ 7:50 am

  3. I have a more positive view of Jones – which is only a relatively recent development.

    He’s raised issues that have attracted my attention – the supermarkets and The University of Auckland as well as criticising the Greens.

    I don’t think I’m alone.

    But clearly there are lots of people who don’t like him.

    I think it’s very possible that Labour could spilt after the inevitable election loss. There’s a polarisation going on that is summed up by attitudes towards Jones.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 7:59 am


  4. I think it’s very possible that Labour could spilt after the inevitable election loss. There’s a polarisation going on that is summed up by attitudes towards Jones.

    I haven’t read very much today, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard so far.

    Comment by George — April 23, 2014 @ 8:48 am

  5. I understand why a lot of people don’t like Shane Jones. He can be a dick. In the past I liked him being in parliament because, well, he gave me a few laughs.

    More recently though he has been one of the only Labour Party MPs to gets New Zealanders talking about issues that *I* think are important for New Zealand. Finally the media and the public were discussing things like how lotto and Instant Kiwi might be harmful for families, and New Zealand’s supermarket duopolies. Sure, Shane wasn’t that only MP talking about this stuff, but he was the one who got these issues into the headlines.

    What I like most about election year is that the New Zealand public will often discuss and debate ‘big issues’ – issues related to structural inequality, that go just beyond our own personal experience. This year, so far, I’ve felt like we’ve been focusing on quite a lot of bullshit, like who is ‘tricky’, and who made a stupid error in some speech, and getting the ‘lost 800,000′ Labour voters to the polling booths (or at least that seems to be the assumption about these non-voters). Of course this is all based on my own view on what the important issues are – but what else am I going to base my vote on?

    Comment by Andrew — April 23, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  6. My impression is that the very different views of Jones represents an irreconcilable fracture in the centre left.

    Which is to do with class vs identity politics vs the environment.

    If Labour lose badly then that will leave the way open for the Greens to claim a moral victory and go for becoming the main opposition party.

    That I think would cause quite a ruction within Labour and force a show down between the two camps.

    We’ve already seen one split – the Maori Party.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  7. That’s a good first step from McCully. Now all he needs to do is find suitable roles for Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard.

    Comment by CPH — April 23, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  8. Even as a dyed-in-the-wool right-winger, I find your idea of a post-election split in Labour laughable.

    There were concerns that National might do the same after the 2002 loss – I was a Young Nat at the time and sat in on some of the post-election post-mortem meetings in the electorates.

    At one of those meetings Bill English made an interesting political observation that has stuck with me over the years. It went along the lines of “National is the party of Simon Upton and John Banks. In all the years I’ve known John, I’ve never once heard him talk about economic policy. And, in all the years I’ve known Simon, I’ve never heard him talk about anything but economic policy. They’re still both naturally at home within the National Party, and the party has room for both their views and ideas.”

    Labour is the same.

    Comment by Phil — April 23, 2014 @ 10:26 am

  9. The line that received the most spontaneous murmurings of assent from the crowd was Jones criticising the performance and discipline of the Labour caucus, something that Cunliffe and Robertson didn’t do.

    @Oh Busby – I’m not sure whether this more a commentary on Jones’ chutzpah, or an indictment of the audiences political awareness.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 23, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  10. There’s significant tension within Labour over the Greens.

    On the one hand there’s people who think it’s self evident that Jones’ criticism of the Greens was completely counter productive and on the other there’s those that agreed with him.

    There’s a lot lurking beneath the surface of this difference of opinion which I think reflects tensions within the broader centre left making it difficult to present a coherent message.

    A Labour defeat could force the issue and I wouldn’t be surprised if many hived off to the Greens.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  11. A Labour defeat could force the issue and I wouldn’t be surprised if many hived off to the Greens.

    Nonsense. It would be electoral suicide for the GP to offer safe harbour to ex-Labour MPs.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 23, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  12. I was thinking more of Labour voters.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 11:13 am

  13. The numbers suggest Labour’s vote is already principally based on tribal left + legacy FPP logic, NeilM.
    The other 15% is already the GPs.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 23, 2014 @ 11:21 am

  14. Sorry. “The other 15% is already the GPs and Mana”.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 23, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  15. Labour was once the party of the disciplined misogynist, Jones obviously didn’t quite get his categories right.

    Comment by Tinakori — April 23, 2014 @ 11:43 am

  16. Labour won’t split – it will merely whither and die. If you’re a 20-something left leaning political activist, are you going to throw in your lot with Phil Goff and his 80s fellow travellers, with economic and social policies indistinguishable from National, or are you going to be a bit more of an idealist and join the Greens? Given the relative ages of the activists in each party, this serves solely as a rhetorical question.

    The longer the old guard (and the old ideas) stay, the faster the party will die. In a decade it will still be entirely consumed by its internal factional politics, albeit the battles will be fought with Zimmer frames at 20 paces.

    Comment by CPH — April 23, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  17. Yeah, but CPH…..there are more than a few differences in substance between the Greens and Labour. The Greens are both deeply authoritarian and deeply reactionary, not notable political choices for the young or sophisticated. The Greens don’t tend to notice these tendencies because their policies are authoritarian about people they don’t like and reactionary about things they think don’t matter like old fashioned metal bashing industries, most modern agriculture and any extractive industries at all. A fair chunk of the world either works in or relies on the revenues from those industries. When combined with the narrow band of moral values judged acceptable for Party members the Greens rule out a big part of the population as members or voters. Perhaps an increasing membership will see them became more liberal and tolerant but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For their core voters that is part of the appeal. If a party wants to be big it has to accommodate a lot of different points of view and lots of different types of people while maintaining some sort of core set of values or easily perceivable brand. At the moment Labour is struggling with that – the argument over Jones’s Labour credentials is the most recent symptom of that debate – and the Greens run the risk of losing their attraction to their core voters if they try and expand their voting base too much.

    Comment by Tinakori — April 23, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  18. Tinakori: I don’t see the Green’s as any more authoritarian than any other party in NZ politics. After all, National and Act are similarly authoritarian, they’re just pushing it in a different direction. If anything, the democratic nature and transparency of the Green’s seems to be less prone to authoritarianism (and perhaps more prone to capture by the majority?). I’d welcome some indication of where this authoritarian behaviour presents itself.

    Comment by lefty — April 23, 2014 @ 1:53 pm

  19. Perhaps an increasing membership will see them became more liberal and tolerant but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For their core voters that is part of the appeal.

    @Tinakori – This is pretty perceptive, though I’m somewhat more optimistic. I would suggest that an influx of the “more liberal and tolerant” crowd has already made significant inroads both in terms of membership numbers and the parliamentary wing. I think that, historically, you would be correct in suggesting that the “reactionary” cadre (not quite an accurate description IMO) of the party did represent the GP’s core constituency, but that has certainly changed post 2008 and for a lot of members, the moralising that came with it is deeply unappealing and inconsistent with the party’s charter.

    As per lefty, I don’t buy the line that the GP is inherently more authoritarian than any other party.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 23, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

  20. Lefty, once upon a time that might have been true, especially in Sir Robert Muldoon’s day but his reign had the perverse impact of making National much more socially and economically liberal. Since the late 1990s Labour has been in slow retreat from economic liberalism of all kinds, including the Keynesian variety, and is increasingly in retreat on social liberalism in the sense that the range of views with which it will consider (or is capable of) close dialogue has narrowed considerably. That makes it hard to rebuild a big electoral base and they are currently wholly dependent on National screwing things up. While Helen Clark was no liberal she had the great advantage of growing up in a rural setting and understanding in her bones that the world is made up of many kinds of people and while it is futile to expect them all to share your values it is possible to share working relationships that result in achievements you can agree on. I guess that’s one of the reasons she recruited Shane Jones, for good or ill.

    Comment by Tinakori — April 23, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  21. …his reign had the perverse impact of making National much more socially and economically liberal.

    The Nats less authoritarian than the Greens? Even if we leave out the constant “tough on crime and bludgers” antics of National governments, I can’t picture the Greens scrapping democratic representation on various quangos so they can stack them with their own appointees – the current Nats have been doing a roaring trade in that particular trait of authoritarian governments.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 23, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  22. This is bad for Niue Islanders.

    Comment by J Mex — April 23, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

  23. Labour won’t split – it will merely whither and die. If you’re a 20-something left leaning political activist, are you going to throw in your lot with Roger Douglas and his fellow travellers, with economic and social policies indistinguishable from National, or are you going to be a bit more of an idealist and join the Alliance? Given the relative ages of the activists in each party, this serves solely as a rhetorical question.

    Edited for contrast.

    Labour is in pretty rude health from where I stand (outside the party). They have a reasonably coherent ideological and policy platform, a strong internal democracy which has invigorated the membership, and MPs who for the most part strongly support these aims and objectives. Labour do have problems in communication and engagement with different sectors, but these are common to other parties.

    They do have some activist spillover to the Greens, but it’s a trickle rather than a flood. After a few years in a party your social networks are pretty solid and it’s hard to move across. What would be more of concern would be people entering politics for the first time choosing the Greens where an equivalent person ten years ago would have chosen Labour – but this still isn’t a big problem for them yet.

    Comment by George — April 23, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

  24. Labour’s problem is that its last big achievements for the left were in the 1930s and 40s, then 50 years later Roger Douglas and co kicked the shit out of the working class. I have mates who are getting politically active, and to be blunt they have some trust issues with Labour … but you’re going to get that when some of the same people who were part of the neoliberal reinstatement of class warfare in this country are still sitting around the table in the Labour caucus room.

    Comment by Economic Illiteracy Support Group — April 23, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

  25. and is increasingly in retreat on social liberalism in the sense that the range of views with which it will consider (or is capable of) close dialogue has narrowed considerably.

    That kind of needs unpacking really. Are the range of views they will not consider, or are incapable of close dialogue with, the ones that can found regularly in the pages of Investigate magazine?

    Are you arguing that they are retreating from social liberalism by becoming less socially conservative?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 23, 2014 @ 5:15 pm

  26. Nope, that they are retreating from social liberalism by becoming less socially liberal, a key part of which is managing relationships with lots of different people with different values but some shared objectives. For example, while the cultural and social values of Maori and many other Labour supporters often differ they can find common ground in Labour’s commitment to improving the lot of wage and some salary workers. For many Maori this has been enough to provide staunch support for Labour. But as we have seen with the Maori Party’s alliance with National, NZ First’s capture of all the Maori seats in 1996 and Mana’s link with the hard old left and potential link with Dotcom this shared interest does not trump all other options any more.

    Comment by Tinakori — April 23, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  27. “…reflects tensions within the broader centre left making it difficult to present a coherent message.”

    The only difficulty presenting a coherent message for the centre left is the lack of news outlets willing to report it with any vigour. Hence Jones being the most effective ‘headliner’. He wasn’t of the centre-left.

    Agree with the comment above, Labour is in rude good health.

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — April 23, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

  28. I’m a bit think sometimes, so could you spell out for me what these values are that Labour can no longer consider, or are incapable of close dialogue with?

    You sort of missed that in your reply, or at least I can’t really see it there, and it’s what I was curious about.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 23, 2014 @ 6:02 pm

  29. @Tinakori,

    Nope, that they are retreating from social liberalism by becoming less socially liberal, a key part of which is managing relationships with lots of different people with different values but some shared objectives.

    That’s a pretty unusual definition of “social liberalism”. It’s usually understood to mean something like laissez faire toward “lifestyle choices”, which in turn means intolerant of those of who would use the power of the state to impose moral choices on others. You appear to have redefined it to mean “become so intolerant of such persons that they won’t ally with them on economic issues”. Which may (or may not) be a valid criticism of Labour, but you’ve expressed it in language that is so odd that it misses its mark.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 23, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

  30. If it’s good for Grant Robertson I don’t think thats particularly good for Labour. He’ll just keep them on the same path thats currently making them unelectable.
    It is bad for Sealord though, they’ve lost their greatest supporter in parliament, who else is up for sale at the moment?

    Comment by Del Griffith — April 23, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

  31. Dunne’s available.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 23, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

  32. Here’s another theory.

    The centre right is largely cohesive – it’s the National Party with close to 50%.

    What used to be Labour/the centre left is now distributed across Labour, the Greens and Mana.

    So why the difference? I think it’s because the centre right have a simple, coherent message of economic managent. Whereas the left is dividing up along various issues.

    And Jones is significant because he embodies those different issues. If you look at the left wing discussion of him then there’s quite a lot about racism, sexism and the environment.

    Well that’s how i see it. I don’t see his going as the foreshadowing of a Labour/Green reconciliation and victory. I doubt Jones was responsible for Labour not agreeing to the Green’s pre-election coalition arrangement.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

  33. What used to be Labour/the centre left is now distributed across Labour, the Greens and Mana.

    Well, let’s be honest. Mana is a niche political grouping that gets (at very, very most) 1-1.5% support in any election (making it the current equivalent of United Future and Act on the right). So we’re really talking about the “Centre Left” being split between Labour and the Greens.

    So why the difference? I think it’s because the centre right have a simple, coherent message of economic managent. Whereas the left is dividing up along various issues.

    I think a large part of “the difference” between the left & right is simply that ACT proved to be a train wreck of a party, so those who’d like to see a “purer” libertarian line being pursued have no real choice but to fold back into National and push for it from therein. It’s not something that’s endemic to the issues each “side” are pursuing – there’s a particular historical background to the present. Had ACT been better at its job, we’d be contemplating a scenario where the left and right are equally “dividing up along various issues.”

    Point being, I’m not sure what is the “simple, coherent message of economic management” that provides a unifying link between the Don Brash era National Party and today’s Key/English model.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 23, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

  34. @Andrew: I think you’re right, and this is supported by the fact that, when ACT was good at its job (e.g. before the 2005 election) the right vote was spread across several parties.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 23, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

  35. Had ACT been better at its job, we’d be contemplating a scenario where the left and right are equally “dividing up along various issues.”

    Possibly but I don’t think there is quite the same single issue that could divide the centre right to the degree that the environment has divided the centre left.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 8:10 pm

  36. Plus Labour lost votes to Mana and the Maori Party.

    I’m not arguing that the coherent message of competent economic management that National presents is necessarily accurate, just that it’s a message with few other distractions.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 23, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

  37. Possibly but I don’t think there is quite the same single issue that could divide the centre right to the degree that the environment has divided the centre left.

    That assumes it is “the environment” that primarily divides the centre left! The Greens may be an “environmental” party, but to what extent are those who vote for it choosing it over Labour because of those environmental policies (as opposed to all the other issues they disagree on)?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 23, 2014 @ 8:38 pm

  38. Plus Labour lost votes to Mana and the Maori Party.

    In 2011, these parties got 2.51% of the vote. That’s about the same as the Conservative Party currently is getting in the polls. So why isn’t this equally evidence of disarray/splitting on the right of politics?

    I’m not arguing that the coherent message of competent economic management that National presents is necessarily accurate, just that it’s a message with few other distractions.

    And part of the reason that there are “few other distractions” is that there presently are no viable competitors on that side of the spectrum. So is it cause or effect – is that National’s portraying itself as such has enabled it to monopolise the vote on the right, or can National do so because of the absence of any other competent competitors in that spectrum?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 23, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

  39. is that National’s portraying itself as such has enabled it to monopolise the vote on the right, or can National do so because of the absence of any other competent competitors in that spectrum?

    I suspect it’s the latter, and a bit of a feeling that even if Act was stronger, Key wouldn’t give them the bones they want. For whatever reasons, (and I’ll note Key was a lot closer to ACT on economics when in opposition), Key has made ACT a whipping boy to portray how ‘centrist’ he is, Sells nearly half of assets, but no more I promise! Won’t do anything about the super, nope, written in stone. Won;t have that mad bugger Douglas in cabinet. etc.

    So what’s the point voting for ACT, Key is the Big Dog and folks enjoy his aura.

    I think what would shift things is if ke needs to do a deal with Winston. What would that deal look like? Not baubles but policies given and refrained from. And if Winsoton demands ACT be outside government, what happens then?

    Could be the end of ACT, or it could stir a resurgence from National’s dry’s who hate Winston with a passion, and kind of think Key is a bit soft but tolerate him because they love watching him beat the shit of Labour at least.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 23, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

  40. In 2011, these parties got 2.51% of the vote. That’s about the same as the Conservative Party currently is getting in the polls. So why isn’t this equally evidence of disarray/splitting on the right of politics?

    Because the Maori Party did actually split from Labour. (and ACT itself was initilally a Labour splinter group).

    But what ever the reasons it’s Labour which faces the strongest competition from its flanks. And that comptetion is based on parties that are based on the environment and ethnicity.

    I’d argue that the demise of ACT is symptomatic of a lack of any real market for a classical liberal party. Not that’ they have ever been one, but that just proves my point.

    Wheras there are political niches for Maori and environmental parties that would previuosly been the domain of Labour and the Greens see themselves as the True major progressive party in waiting. There’s no comparable situation with National.

    Comment by NeilM — April 23, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  41. Neil, you are a man of history. Who else remembered ACT’s true roots? Certainly not those who spout about history being on their side. Whatever, ACT’s liberalism is not so much the economic (which may well have been an “act” anyway) as something which does indeed trace back to deeper roots. (ref. that affair with Rodney’s support for the American bookseller & NAMBLA, which he explained saying “ACT has always been liberal”, or the likes.)
    And Tinakora, yes, you are perceptive. I respect and like that. Muldoon was such a “socialist” and was “stealing Labours ideas” (before they themselves even had them) that they came to truly and passionately hate him – could that be the reason for Dougie’s sell-off of all Think-Big stuff? Erase all memory of Piggy? Even if it meant going against all Labour dogma of state-ownership-is-best? See my comments on ACT.

    As for Shane, I certainly do not believe he was kicked out, but squeezed, yes. Marginalized, yes. Ostracized, yes. You see, Damien O’Connor was absolutely right in his comments a couple of years ago, and I would not be surprised to see him have a similar reaction to the squeezing, marginalization and ostracism he also is undergoing.
    Comment No. 1 by Busby says it all, Jones & O’Connor resonate with the working man, Cunliffe resonates with the Union Bosses, and Robertson has his niche resonance.

    However, it’s all good, as no doubt Phil (No. 8) would agree.

    Comment by returned emigrant — April 23, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

  42. @Neil: It’s not accurate to call ACT a Labour splinter party. While obviously some of their prominent members were former Labour MPs, they didn’t leave Labour directly to join ACT, and the party also included some very important ex-Nats – Ruth Richardson and Derek Quigley were founding members.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 24, 2014 @ 12:43 am

  43. #Labour well and truely rooted.

    Comment by Stephen x — April 24, 2014 @ 3:21 am

  44. He lost the leadership battle and he quit. So? It was obviously becoming clear to him his future influence in Labour was limited. As for being funded by an oil and gas guy, so what? Is Labour anti oil and gas? I don’t know about Wira Gardiner but it is hardly surprising that his being Maori is more important to him than his National links to the point he wants to support Shane.

    So your criticism hasn’t been vindicated I don’t think. And going on about his vocab not being able to connect him with the working class is petty. When he was having a crack at countdown people seemed to know what he was going on about.

    Comment by Swan — April 24, 2014 @ 6:02 am

  45. I think that if Jones had won the Labour leadership contest we would be having a very different conversation today, and part of it might have centred around Labour’s rise, not fall, in the polls. He was able to ignite interest in the media in ways that Cunliffe can only fantasise about. So far everything Cunliffe has touched has turned to shit. So Cunliffe brought in his personal ‘Minister of Propaganda’ and it has been as useful as tits on a snake – even McCarten the arch mover and shaker can’t polish a political turd..

    We can opine about the strategic post-election situation all we like, but I think this boils down to whether Cunliffe and Jones ‘liked’ each other. And I don’t think they did. The difference being that Cunliffe: “Im in charge now’ (remember that statement in the House from a previous incarnation under Helen?) risks coming across as vain and arrogant. (That’s diplomatic, of me). At some stage Jones would have discussed his prospects with Cunliffe, and Cunliffe would have let Jones know that basically, he was f**d.

    At the base of this IMO is that Jones considered Cunliffe to be like that old proverb about money =

    “A good slave, but a bad master”.

    In short they elected the wrong man; unless Labour’s strategic direction is to reinvent itself as a pressure-group,to lobby for esoteric interest-groups, in which case Cunliffe is just the ticket.

    I don’t ‘dislike’ Cunliffe by the way, I just think that even Stevie Wonder could have spotted this one.

    Comment by Lee C — April 24, 2014 @ 6:48 am

  46. I think that if Jones had won the Labour leadership contest we would be having a very different conversation today, and part of it might have centred around Labour’s rise, not fall, in the polls.

    Well, we can hypothesise anything, can’t we? Because it will never be tested, so any counter-history may be true. Meaning that the “very different” conversation also could be about the full-scale warfare that has developed between the Jones led Labour Party and the Greens, fed by leaks from Green-sympathetic Labour MPs about how Jones is lazy and disconnected with the day-to-day politics (a la David Lange), all of which has caused the public to turn their faces from both parties and caused National to soar to over 50% on a regular basis. At which point in time we’d be on a comment thread discussing how the failure to choose David Cunliffe as leader was a grave mistake.

    Jones might have been better than Cunliffe. He might have been worse. He might have made little difference. But he came third in the leadership contest and then chose to walk away because he’d had enough of the game. That’s a pretty poor record for being the party’s saviour.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 24, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  47. And going on about his vocab not being able to connect him with the working class is petty. When he was having a crack at countdown people seemed to know what he was going on about.

    Now that he’s no longer “having a crack at Countdown” all those useful working class idiots can go back to buying lotto at the checkout. God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world, what ho.

    Comment by Joe W — April 24, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  48. I think that if Jones had won the Labour leadership contest we would be having a very different conversation today, and part of it might have centred around Labour’s rise, not fall, in the polls. He was able to ignite interest in the media in ways that Cunliffe can only fantasise about.

    I think the media interest that would have been ignited by a Jones win would have been strongly focused on a Hooton/Slater/Farrar drip-feed of interesting titbits about Jones’ and Samuel’s adventures with a certain Mr Liu, and said media would right now be giving Labour the kind of hiding that leaves your relatives standing around your hospital bed wondering if you’ll live, let alone get a recognisable face back – but as Andrew Geddis points out, we can hypothesise anything…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 24, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  49. It’s now all descended into a squabble amongst pundits about the nature of Jones’ voter appeal..

    A small number of pundits are suggesting he appeals to just blue-collar males which I don’t think is true.

    Personally, I think his criticism of the Greens appealed to a wide range of people

    But his detractors fall into the trap of just writing off his views and those voters who agree with him.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 24, 2014 @ 10:16 am

  50. Although there’s an element of standing up for traditional Labour voters in areas such as mining and fisheries. Hence the conflict with the Greens.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 24, 2014 @ 10:27 am

  51. What would be more of concern would be people entering politics for the first time choosing the Greens where an equivalent person ten years ago would have chosen Labour – but this still isn’t a big problem for them yet.

    @George – I’m not so sure it isn’t a big problem for the NZLP. Polling would suggest otherwise.

    It think Labour’s decades long dalliance with of 3rd-wayism – epitomised by their ongoing acceptance of neo-liberal economic strictures (now being remodeled as “centrist”) and their unwillingness to revert from identity politics to class politics (which should be the bread and butter of the labour movement) – has created a massive credibility problem.

    I agree though that with the NZLP machinery is able to support a strong activist base / unionist connections, the problem wrt losing ground to the GP is mitigated as the LP an still claim to represent “the left” – at least in terms of perception if not in reality.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 24, 2014 @ 10:38 am

  52. Personally, I think his criticism of the Greens appealed to a wide range of people

    Given your often expressed (and by “often expressed”, I mean in every single one of the numerous comments you make on any given topic) antipathy toward the Greens, it is fair to point out there could be an element of observer bias at work here.

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 24, 2014 @ 11:46 am

  53. Jones talked to the guys working on oil rigs. He wanted them to have jobs. His academic Marxist replacement sees divisive issues like “violence against women” as the main issue.

    Under increased scrutiny from a more politically diverse media than during the Helen Clark era, the Labour party is increasingly seen as a group of out of touch over paid bureaucrats and Marxist academics. Jone’s departure increased that perception.

    National is seen as the better economic managers, who will boost investment and jobs. Votes drift away from Labour and to National because of this perception.

    Now Labour’s academics and Marxists are advocating sharing power with the elitist anti-jobs anti-investment Greens. A move that only exacerbates their current disconnect with the working class.

    More votes will drift away from Labour and to National.

    Whoever is in charge at Labour needs to take action. The most obvious thing to do is go after the Greens. If these losers were wiped off NZ’s political landscape and their ideas consigned to the proverbial dustbin of history, National would suddenly find a new Labour, united and all on its own, breathing right down their neck.

    Comment by Redbaiter — April 24, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

  54. >Jones talked to the guys working on oil rigs. He wanted them to have jobs.

    We’re talking about 1000 people here, 90% of whom live in Taranaki, where Labour got smashed by 14,000 votes. If that’s your idea of an election winner, compared to tens of thousands of women who don’t like getting bashed up by their husbands, then you got no clue what Labour needs. But of course, you hate Labour, and everything about it, and can hardly be expected to be seriously trying to think of anything they could do to actually increase their power. If Labour crushes the Greens, they’ll have to have policy that appeals to Green voters. In other words, your idea is for Labour to Green up. Even if they did it all the way, took every single Green vote off the Greens, and somehow miraculously didn’t lose pretty much their entire center in doing so, they’d still have less votes than National, as things stand, and would rely on allying with Winston Peters, who hates Green ideas almost as much as you do.

    In losing Jones, Labour lost the Redbaiter vote. That’s probably a net win for them, in reality.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 24, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

  55. it is fair to point out there could be an element of observer bias at work here.

    Like everyone. I think it’s worth while making the point that Jones had an audience. I started paying attention to Labour again because of him and now he’s gone.

    The received wisdom is that his criticisms of the Greens were irrational and counterproductive.

    There’s others that think otherwise. And I have made the point that I sympathise with the Labour leadership trying to manage this.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 24, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

  56. The received wisdom is that his criticisms of the Greens were irrational and counterproductive.

    There’s others that think otherwise.

    There are people who think that constantly trashing the party you’re going to be completely dependent on to help form a government is rational and productive? Reveal these geniuses of political analysis, that we may ridicule them.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 24, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

  57. >I think it’s worth while making the point that Jones had an audience.

    Yes, he played especially well with people who have always voted National, and always will. That’s probably why they’re hiring him now.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 24, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

  58. National is seen as the better economic managers, who will boost investment and jobs.

    Unusually for a Redbaiter comment, there’s an element of truth in this sentence. The difficult bit is figuring out the ‘why’ part, given that there’s no evidence for it whatsoever. How to explain it? Better advertising? That “more politically-diverse media” thing being as accurate as the usual Redbaiter delusion? I really don’t know.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 24, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  59. Hey Ben, you’re a prime example of why Labour is losing ground. An insulated bubble living ivory tower progressive holding he working class in contempt as boozers and wife bashers.

    Working people in return perceive your type as being the arrogant core of Labour and that is why they prefer the more down to earth National Party.

    More bashed wives than workers in NZ? Pfft What socially divisive delusional Marxist rubbish.

    Who is going to vote for that kind of insanity?

    Comment by Redbaiter — April 24, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  60. “How to explain it?”

    You’re a librarian in a nest of extreme left academics Milt. You’ll never get it.

    Comment by Redbaiter — April 24, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

  61. The warning signs about Jones were there. Next time, I’ll pay them more attention. I suppose national now happily own Jones’ taste in hotel video entertainment.

    Comment by Steve Withers — April 24, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  62. You work at the NMPL, Milt? Who knew!

    Comment by Gregor W — April 24, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  63. NPML rather.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 24, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

  64. Don’t ever let the fact that you don’t actually know a damned thing about me get in the way of making up more bullshit and lies, Red. Why break the habits of a lifetime?

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 24, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

  65. Progs like Milt and Ben need to take a peek outside. Have a look at the slowly rising tide of dissatisfaction across the West, and then ask yourself why its happening.

    I’ll tell you. It’s happening because of you and your design to impose a one party totalitarian Progressive state in every Western democracy.

    As Dylan once said, times are changing guys.

    You are like the Frank Sinatra fans were when the Beatles were on their second number one.

    Comment by Redbaiter — April 24, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  66. You work at the NPML, Milt?

    I wish – telling people who I worked for would be awesome. They’d probably expect me to know something about their subject matter, though.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 24, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

  67. 1000 people here, 90% of whom live in Taranaki

    Not to mention that maybe 75% of them are contractors from overseas on temporary work permits, so have no vote.

    Comment by richdrich — April 24, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

  68. After snaffling the first reply to this post I tried to write another pithy and cogent reply here as my thinking is evolving on the Jones debate. But waffled so much I decided to it necessary to reboot my blog to allow a longer form of expression, as opposed to bombing this comment thread with 1000 words.

    Thanks for the opportunity to drop the first few paras:


    In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think Labour will be better off without Jones.

    Waitakere Man doesn’t exist as a viable bloc of voters for the left, at least in the way pundits like Trotter and Pagani et al would have you believe.

    Men tend to vote right, women tend to vote left. This rough rule of thumb can be seen across Western democracies; it’s a useful place to start when looking at our electoral narrative over the last few cycles.

    Take a look at the last two competitive elections Labour faced – 2005 and 2008. National’s success under Key and failure under Brash can largely be attributed to differences in how those two leaders connected with female voters.

    I’ve written a fair bit more here –>> http://wp.me/p25Yx7-8W

    Comment by Oh Busby — April 24, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  69. >Have a look at the slowly rising tide of dissatisfaction across the West, and then ask yourself why its happening.

    In your case, the answer is extremely simple. Because masturbation is always dissatisfying.

    >I’ll tell you. It’s happening because of you and your design to impose a one party totalitarian Progressive state in every Western democracy.

    No, I’m sorry. It’s because you masturbate too much. That is the cause of all the world’s ills. Lay off the beat, and democracy will prevail. Just try not touching it for even one hour, and you’ll be startled by the results.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 24, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

  70. “There are people who think that constantly trashing the party you’re going to be completely dependent on to help form a government is rational and productive?”

    Does this apply to Green attacks on Labour?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 24, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

  71. Well Andrew I happen to be a big fan of counterfactual history, and I agree completely that Jones might have been the victim of a slating and we might be discussing the folly of not having Cunliffe at the top, I also agree that Jones as third runner-up and dummy-spitter is a poor set of credentials for a leader-in waiting – or otherwise. I also don’t particularly rate Jones as some kind of political wunderkind – his hotel-habits speak for themselves.
    However, I would certainly like to timidly hypothesise at this stage,(given the polls in support of Cunliffe) that the public’s bar of expectation about their representatives has fallen to such a low that even the departure of such a mediocre politician as Jones has sent shudders through a once great party, and had serious pundits like Armstrong hypothesising it’s a tragedy for Labour… As for the Greens, I very much feel that that is a political party on the ascendent from being a pressure group; whereas Labour appears to be a political party on a descent to becoming a pressure group; perhaps Jones sensed this too? I’d hypothesise that in a couple of elections, it might be Labour going cap in hand to the Greens.
    But you are right, we can hypothesise anything really. What eludes me is why you felt it necessary to point that out in a political blog, as if I just invented the notion.

    Comment by Lee C — April 24, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

  72. ‘/// we can hypothesise anything really. What eludes me is why you felt it necessary to point that out in a political blog, as if I just invented the notion.’
    Apologies – that reads much snider than I intended it. I just meant that loads of people do it all the time.

    Comment by Lee C — April 24, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

  73. Also, feel free to describe stuff I write as ‘bollocks’ if that is what it is – (I’d admit to an appreciable portion of it).

    Comment by Lee C — April 24, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

  74. The Oil and gas industry is much bigger than just rig workers. But I’m sure you guys already knew that.

    The Taranaki peeps I have been working with lately in the o and g biz are also incredibly proud of their industry and region. And with good reason.

    Comment by Swan — April 24, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

  75. The Oil and gas industry is much bigger than just rig workers.
    They probably are when your exposure to people who actually work for a living is restricted to the occasional furtive glance at this kind of thing,

    Comment by Joe W — April 24, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

  76. NeilM: “I think it’s because the centre right have a simple, coherent message of economic managent.”

    To be precise, it’s the Shock Doctrine dressed up as “stable economic management” and “we are all temporarily embarrassed millionaires”.

    Labour’s policy mix is about right, but it’s been crowded out by internal caucus politics (it’s also happened in Oz with the Rudd-Gillard leadership spills), and the absence of a proper replacement for H2 and Mike Munro, which has hampered efforts to get the message across coherently.

    Redsterbaiter: “Have a look at the slowly rising tide of dissatisfaction across the West, and then ask yourself why its happening. ”

    Sounds like the same tide of dissatisfaction that gave rise to the Occupy movement.

    Comment by deepred — April 24, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

  77. ” I would certainly like to timidly hypothesise at this stage,(given the polls in support of Cunliffe) . . . ”

    Given a recent poll result, it appears that Cunliffe is perhaps the most popular leader Labour has EVER had – – probably all Green voters welcome him as Labour leader, as would Mana, etc.

    So, let’s do some maths:
    11% preferred Cunliffe for PM (obviously also want him as Labour leader) Green and Mana voters adds another say 13% to his tally. And then 65% preferred JK as PM and therefore obviously would like Cunliffe to keep on heading-up Labour, ACT+Conservatives voters adds another 4-5% to those happy to see him continue . . .
    SO – total of those who definitely want him as leader of the Labour Party is a bit over 80%

    (The dissenting 20%, by the way, are all Labour voters !!!)

    Comment by returned emigrant — April 24, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

  78. NO ONE has posted in the last 23 hours !!!!!
    my last post, the last one for a whole day, #77, must have forced some sort of reality check on all you miserable lefties – you’re ALL lost for words and bereft of arguments.
    absolutely par for the course of course.

    Comment by returned emigrant — April 25, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

  79. No, there’s a new thread.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — April 25, 2014 @ 8:30 pm


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