Shane Jones has been close to Winston Peters at Waitangi today, raising speculation that he may be about to announce that he will join NZ First and stand for them in this year’s election. But there is opposition within the party.
Patrick Gower goes as far as saying Shane Jones launches political comeback:
Former Labour MP Shane Jones has appeared at a public speech by Winston Peters in what is a clear sign he is planning a return to politics at this election.
Mr Jones and Mr Peters shook hands before the speech at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Paihia, with Mr Jones then taking a front row seat as Mr Peters addressed New Zealand First supporters about race relations.
It is a sure sign Mr Jones, who is currently employed as an ambassador for fisheries in the Pacific, is going to stand for New Zealand First at this year’s election.
Asked earlier on Friday if he would be making a comeback, the answer was very political: “Shane Jones in May will have completed his [ambassador] contract … In May, I’ll make a choice as to what I’m going to do.”
Paddy may know more, or he may be jumping the gun.
However if Peters wants to fast track Jones into the party and up the ranks it won’t go down well with some in the party.
Shane Jones’ rumoured political comeback with NZ First has faced a setback, with party members setting up a “Never Shane” group to protest his potential candidacy.
Jones’ return to politics as an NZ First candidate has been tipped for some time, with suggestions he may announce his plans at his annual Waitangi barbecue on February 4.
However, a Facebook page described as “a network of NZ First members and supporters opposed to Shane Jones” has been set up ahead of a potential announcement.
NZ First member Curwen Rolinson, the group’s founder, said many party members were concerned about the possibility of Jones standing at the September 23 election and ruining what could be “a watershed year”.
“His personal background as a politician is so diametrically opposed to our values in NZ First, we just don’t see how he could conceivably fit in.”
“To top it all off, he abandoned his own party in its hour of need…to basically feather his own nest as a South Pacific ambassador for the National Party.
“Really, we just can’t trust him, that’s our perspective on it.”
The group had started a letter-writing campaign to NZ First’s board of directors, which would need to approve Jones’ candidacy given he did not appear to be a party member.
So there’s dissent in the ranks before Jones announces his intentions.
There may also be some less than enthusiastic NZ First MPs, especially deputy leader Ron Mark, who appears to be positioning himself to be Winston’s successor as leader.
The Never Shane Facebook page (currently 184 likes).
And Rolinson, who has been an author at The Daily Blog for some time, has posted there on it: #NeverShane
This has not been an easy piece for me to write. Watching in mounting horror as somebody – or something – you love and care deeply about gears up to do something self-destructive is never easy. And yet, that’s the apparent position which quite a few of us dedicated New Zealand Firsters appear to be in right now.
Unless you’ve been living on the dark side of the Moon for the past few years, you’ll most likely be aware of the swirling rumours that Shane Jones intends to mount a Parliamentary comeback at this year’s Election with New Zealand First. The media have consistently been reporting this notion for much of the last two years, in line with tips disseminated by a certain figure in NZ First’s Leader’s Office. And, for that matter, supported by things seen with their own eyes – Jones appearing with Winston at the latter’s Northland victory party, for instance; or Jones’ now-wife acting as Winston’s campaign manager for the same race.
But up until relatively recently, I was mostly content to dismiss speculation of Jones’ political necromancy as being empty media stirmongering. A sensationalist impulse looking for a story’s spine to shiver up. And not least because it appeared so self-evidently stupid for NZ First to even think about running Jones as a candidate.
That all changed late last month when I received independent confirmation from a number of different directions of Jones gearing up to announce his (NZF) candidacy.
I don’t know how Winston will take dissent in the ranks.