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.