I love the mental picture. Murray McCully stroking his chin. ‘Shane Jones would make an amazing leader of the Labour Party. Jones is the leader we really fear. The public would adore and worship Shane Jones. I hope no senior political journalists advise the Labour Party to pick SHANE JONES.’ While Espiner furrows his brow and nods. Yes. Jones. The guy who never won a seat, who stood down after charging pornographic movies to the taxpayer, introduced laws regulating shower pressure in the middle of the 2008 election campaign when Labour struggled with the ‘nanny state’ perception, who stood down again when he was investigated for immigration fraud and now only ever speaks out to attack Labour’s largest coalition partner. That’s who National really fears.
The actual leadership contenders are Robertson and Cunliffe. I think they’d both be pretty good. Neither of them are going to go on a bus tour of the heartland, or tell journalists they want to model themselves on Finnish neo-liberal politicians, or attack the welfare system, or hire the Paganis as political advisers, or hold up dead fish in Parliament, or forget about tens of thousands of dollars in a foreign bank account, or visit the Sky City box while the party is criticising Sky City any of the other awesomely terrible decisions Shearer made.
Neither are ideal. Robertson is a risk, partly because he’s gay and that’s an unknown commodity in New Zealand politics, partly because he’s the MP for Wellington Central, and that’ll be tricky to sell in Auckland and Christchurch. Cunliffe is a risk because, frankly, he’s very weird. We keep hearing that his caucus hate him, which seems like a ringing endorsement to me.
I don’t know which of them the party should choose. I do know that they should listen to their god-dammed members this time around, and not just stitch something up in caucus or do a deal with the unions to block vote for a leadership team.