This has been even stupider than I thought it would be.
The majority of the media commentary regarding Jones has been – as Malcolm Tucker would put it – borderline homoerotic. Morning Report featured Damien O’Connor, Clayton Cosgrove, John Tamihere, Chris Trotter and progressive left-wing commentator Michael Bassett, all gushing over the horrible loss of this good, simple, plain-speaking, decent blue-collar man. Labour cast him out! Labour should be a Broad Church! It must tolerate diversity! Labour drove good honest St Jonesy away with its lesbians and political correctness and desire to form coalition governments with other parties under the MMP electoral system!
Firstly, Jones wasn’t ostracised by the current Labour leadership. He was front bench. Fifth ranked. One of the top MPs in the party. Spokesman for Economic Development and Maori Affairs, and a host of other senior portfolios. What else were they supposed to do, exactly, to accommodate this guy who had passed no significant legislation, never won an electorate seat, immolated himself in several humiliating scandals, and came a distant third in the leadership race, winning only 13% of the members vote? Make him leader anyway? Is the definition of a ‘Broad Church’ a party in which you just hand the leadership to an underperforming MP who openly despises the rest of his party because if you don’t he’ll take a giant shit on you during the run-up to the election?
Secondly: St Jonesy hasn’t exactly stepped down to spend time with his family here. He’s not going to work in the community. He’s not even going into the private sector. He’s taking a massive payment of taxpayer cash from Murray McCully to leave Labour while inflicting the most damage possible on his former party. Labour are playing nice about this. They’re pretending that Jones is a good guy and they wish him well, because they want the story to go away, and because he was one of their highest ranked MPs and they don’t want him leaking anything to National that could damage them further during the campaign. That seems like a naive hope to me. If good old Jonesy knows it, McCully probably knows it, or will.
Thirdly: If Maori and the working class loved Jonesy so much, as we’ve heard hundreds of times over the last three days, why didn’t they, y’know, vote for him? Labour won 40% of the vote in Tāmaki Makaurau during 2011. Jones won 33% and failed to carry the seat. Shouldn’t this fertility demi-god, legendary orator and hero of the people have outperformed the horrible old Labour party during its worst election of all time?
It’s useful to compare the media treatment of Shane Jones with the way the press gallery conducted themselves over Chris Carter. When Carter betrayed his party because he was unhappy with Goff’s leadership he was treated with utmost contempt and the gallery – literally – chased him around Parliament. When Jones betrays his party because the Nats waved a cheque in front of his face its a nationwide tragedy and all the Labour Party’s fault.