NZ First succession

There was some odd talk about leadership succession in New Zealand First during their conference.

There was one bizarre snippet from One News in Peters ‘not interested in going on’ if not kingmaker after election:

If Mr Peters isn’t kingmaker next year, is his time up?

“Otherwise, I’m not personally interested in going on, and neither would my party be,” he said.

Without context it’s hard to know what he actually meant with that comment but he can’t be relied on to stand by it anyway.

He also said:

“Oh look, it’s in the good book, any man who sets his hand to the plough and then looks backwards is not fit for the kingdom of heaven,” he said.

He tried to explain that in his conference speech but he lost me. Does it mean he has been crooked but will just keep ploughing on regardless? Or does he think he’s on track to be God?

Peters is not the only NZ First leader who seems to have high estimations of their worth.

Deputy leader Ron Mark started his own speech by talking about succession.

He said he thinks about what would happen if he died in a car crash during one of many trips over the Rimutakas: “I’m always talking to the caucus – one of you has to be prepared to step into my shoes.”

Those are the shoes he wrestled off Tracey Martin, but this is an odd way to start a conference speech. That is from Nicholas Jonesd (NZH) in Shane Jones and New Zealand First, could it happen? Also:

There was also a strange tangent, when Mark said Labour’s recent criticism of Corrections came after it sought to cover-up the behaviour of a rogue prison guard “goon squad” when in government.

“Goon squad leaders were making their squad members put their penis on the bar so they could hit it with a beer bottle and show them how tough they are,” Mark told the hall. “That actually happened.”

Even for a speech to fire up party delegates it was a bit much detail. And helps explain the speculation swirling around Jones.

So what about the Shane Jones speculation? It’s nothing new, it has been talked about for years. Jones is apparently on a three year diplomatic contract until the middle of next year so it is likely to remain nothing more than speculation for quite a while.

But even if Jones stands for NZ First in Whangarei next year it’s far from a given that he would win. Then he would have an even bigger battle over Mark’s shoes.

Mark provided more evidence of why he would struggle to succeed Peters successfully. They are both political rogues but at least Peters is likeable to some.

And if Jones stands in Whangerei and wins, and Peters doesn’t become king maker and retires, and Jones manages to pull off Mark’s shoes, is he really leadership material? He had a shot at the top job in Labour but didn’t make it – and then wasn’t interested in going on with the party.

It’s hard to see Jones filling Peters’ shoes, which have trodden the country many times. Does Jones have that drive?

Speculation about succession is pointless while Peters is still on the NZ First throne anyway.

NZ First targeting regions

New Zealand First will have their conference in Dunedin this weekend.The theme will be “It’s time”.

Leading into this in an interview with NZ Herald Winston Peters says they will be increasing their focus on the regions – Winston Peters: Regional NZ will be our election battleground.

In an interview with the Herald before the conference, Peters said the party would redouble its focus on regional New Zealand to grow its vote.

The 71-year-old has spent less time in Parliament lately in favour of his Northland electorate and the regions, with recent trips to Dunedin, Dannevirke and Kaikohe.

“We are seriously getting around the provinces,” he said. “The Greens can cough and get in the media. We pack halls and don’t. We pack halls in this country like no other political party.”

Peters is as good as any politician at coughing and getting media coverage. And he’s better than most at packing halls, but he puts a lot more effort into old style campaigning than anyone else.

There has been growing speculation that former Labour MP Shane Jones will leave the diplomatic corps and stand for NZ First in Whangarei against National MP Shane Reti.

There has been speculation on Jones joining NZ First for years, going back to when he was a Labour MP. If Jones stood for NZ First in Whangarei he would probably be very competitive there.

Peters would not name names but said there were more people interested in standing for NZ First than any time in its 23-year history.

“There are seats around the country that we can capture…we have a list of them but we are not disclosing where they are at this point in time.

“We are keeping our powder shot dry. We won Northland by totally and utterly ambushing their arrogance. So you can understand our desire to keep our plans to ourselves.”

Details perhaps, but Peters has been sharing his plans a bit in this interview.

While National is vulnerable to shedding support it’s not just them that NZ First are targeting.

NZ First deputy-leader Ron Mark has recently turned attention from National to Labour during exchanges in Parliament, accusing the fellow opposition party of stealing policy.

Peters reacted angrily after Little said the party was considering policy that would write-off student debt for graduates who worked in certain public service jobs in the regions – similar to existing NZ First policy.

NZ First had been called racist and xenophobic for calling for lower immigration levels in the past, Peters said, and didn’t like to see other long-standing policies “stolen”.

He did not think much of the memorandum of understanding between Labour and the Green Party: “It’s not for me to comment on what their political strategy might be. Suffice to say it’s not a winning one”.

The memorandum has not been the game changer (yet) that Greens and Labour were hoping for. Greens seem to have hit a support ceiling and Labour have not only failed to recover from an awful result last election, they are at risk of collapsing further. Peters no doubt senses this.

Peters continued his long-standing position of not commenting on possible coalition deals after the election.

So voters have no idea what he might do, something he keeps getting away – to an extent. It hasn’t worked in getting NZ First into government since 2005.

“Will we be ready for [the election’s] ramifications? Of course we will be ready. But we don’t talk about it as a caucus. In fact, I do my best to discourage anybody worrying about where they fit in the day after the election.”

He might have to do better discouraging his MPs: In response to The political tides are all flowing the way of ‘kingmaker’ Winston Peters:

ClaytonMitchellTweet

Peters could remind Mitchell about counting kings before the election has hatched.

NZ First could potentially get anywhere between 5% and 20% in the next election, with 8-15% looking quite doable.

They are attractive to the disgruntled and disillusioned, but their biggest asset, Peters, is also their biggest deterrent. He is good at picking up protest votes but recent elections have shown an electorate reluctance to crown Peters with the power to dictate.

If Shane Jones stands in Whangarei

A senior National MP has told that Shane Jones will beat its MP Shane Reti in Whangarei (if Jones stands).

I can’t find any other details on this.

Jones joining NZ First has been talked about since before he left Labour. If he stood he would may have a good chance of winning Whangarei. Or not.

If he joins NZ First. If he stands in Whangarei.

2014 result in Whangerei:

  • Shane Reti (National) 20,111
  • Kelly Ellis (Labour) 6,942
  • Paul Doherty (Greens) 3,163
  • Pita Paraone (NZ First) 2,944
  • Others about 2,500

National would have to bleed from their jugular to lose from those sort of numbers.

Shane Jones and NZ First

It’s long been rumoured that Shane Jones was destined to join Winston Peters at NZ First and take over as leader (I’m not sure what Ron Mark thinks of that).

The rumours are currently swirling again according to One News.

Rumours swirl about comeback for former MP Shane Jones

Former Labour MP Shane Jones is reported to be planning to jump ship to New Zealand First as the party opens the fourth of what will be five electorate offices in the expansive electorate.

Winston Peters stormed to victory in a by-election in the Northland electorate last March after the seat was vacated following the resignation of National’s Mike Sabin.

Mr Peters is confident he can hold the seat at next year’s general election and now local rumours say current Pacific Fisheries ambassador Shane Jones will stand with him for the party in the neighbouring Whangarei electorate.

Whangarei is currently held by National’s Shane Reti.

If rumours are swirling I wouldn’t rule out Peters as being the source of them.

If National aren’t careful they could lose their last hold in Northland.

Labour could also be out manoeuvred again by Peters and may also be shut out of Northland.

Labour leader candidates on TPPA

It’s interesting to look back to Labour’s leadership contest in 2013 and what the candidates views were on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Question : What are your views on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement? Will you make the TPPA process transparent?

Of course no candidate will disagree with making the process more transparent. Their responses.

Note that these responses were targeting party members and unions in trying to get selected.

Grant Robertson

The TPPA is more than a normal trade agreement and needs to be treated as such, with caution.

I am a supporter of trade agreements that gain our exporters access to markets that will mean they can create jobs here in New Zealand. But we have to ensure that our rights to make laws, regulate and protect our people and environment is upheld.

In the case of the TPPA we must set clear bottom lines. No change to the PHARMAC model, protection of IP and copyright law, and ensuring our sovereign right to regulate and make policy is supported.

We do need more transparency in the way we deal with trade. I would set up an independent trade advisory group with representation from across the community to ensure there is public participation and understanding of our approach to trade agreements. We must be at the table for these sorts of negotiations, but it is vital that it is a Labour Government at the table.

David Cunliffe

I am concerned about the TPPA. We cannot trade-away our ability to set government regulation. I am worried that John Key and his Government will continue to keep us all in the dark about the text and its implications and I fear they will then present us with the final text some time near the end of this year and insist that we accept it otherwise we will harm our trading relationships.

This will leave us with little or no opportunity to consult with our communities about its potential implications.

We must protect Pharmac, ensure intellectual property provisions are suitable for New Zealand business, and we must not accept limits on our sovereign right to regulate. Any agreement must be in New Zealand’s best interest.

Shane Jones

A very challenging issue. It is vitally important we retain the capacity for our Parliament to regulate for public good.

It is essential that this deal does not hobble our technical industries through punitive patents. Ultimately however I do not want to see our Trade partners in a club without us.

NZ First is strongly against the TPPA. How would Jones fit with that?

Northland winners – Peters, Dunne, Maori Party

Winston Peters is obviously a big winner in the Northland by-election. He is a long time very savvy political opportunist and this election couldn’t have been designed better for him.

His informants and instincts were spot on, and he hammered National, something he has been trying to do since he got back into Parliament in 2011.

And this hammering was done democratically, albeit with a lot of media assistance.

Whether Peters hold Northland in 2017 doesn’t matter. If he didn’t stand again he would go out on a high. If he stands and loses in 2017 then he loses little – he may or may not stay in Parliament via NZ First’s party vote but it’s getting time he thought about retirement anyway.

So this is win win win for Winston.

Ironically one of the biggest beneficiaries of this Winston win is Peter Dunne, someone Peters tried to destroy last term.

Dunne now holds a critical vote for National and can be far more influential for the rest of this term – more influential than he has up until now and arguably more influential than Peters in Parliament.

The Maori Party also now hold a balance of power vote so their importance increases for the National led Government.

It could also be a win now and a potential future bigger win for Shane Jones, who may take over from Peters in Northland. That would make it hard for National to win the previously safe electorate back for some time.

The mood was jubilant at the NZ First campaign night headquarters, the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell. Among those celebrating were former Labour MPs Dover Samuels and Shane Jones.

– Northern Advocate: Winston’s ‘Force for the North’ steamrolls National

UMR poll on Jones not Labour

Yesterday  Whale Oil and today Kiwiblog have had posts claiming a poll asking a question on Shane Jones was done by Labour, speculating it was with an aim of attacking  Jones.

Whale Oil: Labour getting ready to shaft Shane Jones?

Kiwiblog:  Are Labour planning smear campaign on Shane Jones?

The poll question:

Which of the following is closer to your own view even if not quite right?

o Shane Jones delivered amusing one liners but his political career was accident prone and did not amount to much. The most attention he got was for using his parliamentary credit card to pay for pornographic movies.
o Shane Jones was one of the few politicians who tells it like it is and with his attacks on Countdown has been the most effective Labour politician this year. He will be a huge loss to Labour especially amongst Maori and blue collar voters.

Russell Brown says that it definitely wasn’t Labour who commissioned the poll.

The “UMR polling commissioned by Labour” being touted by Whaleoil is nothing of the kind. Not commissioned, received or paid for by Labour.

Not that I’d be hanging out for a correction. Just saying he’s firmly holding the wrong end of the stick.

And no, I didn’t get that information from Labour either. I’m surprised they haven’t made it clear though.

I asked him if he knew who.

No, but definitely not Labour. I would naturally *like* to know :-)

Not the first time whoever-it-is has been mistaken for internal labour polling, I gather.

More tweets on this as David Farrar checks it out:

What is your source? Will update if it is someone on the record.

Considering the same poll was testing potential policies for Labour, I’d be sceptical short of an on the reecord denial.

And Russell responded:

Or you could offer some evidence that it is what you say it is. It usually works that way.

Fair call. Then @publicaddress

But no, sorry, it’s a confidential source, but one I’m very confident is correct.

@dpfdpf

I think one can use common sense. Who would want to poll on Shane Jones except media and Labour?

Considering the same poll was testing potential policies for Labour, I’d be sceptical short of an on the reecord denial.

All it takes is for Labour to say on the record “Not us”.

Well whoever it is, is presumably the same person or party polling on a $3 billion a year carbon tax.

So who would have the inclination and the money to do apparently multiple polls that look like they are Labour orientated?

I wonder if NZ First commission polls. The Conservative and Internet parties are both known to commission polling.

Soon returning MP Kelvin Davis launches

Kelvin Davis will soon replace Shane Jones in Parliament as next on the Labour list. He has posted this comment in Facebook.

Well today is my first full day of being unemployed. I had to resign yesterday to avoid compromising my former employer (MoE). Public servants aren’t allowed to make comments to the media and the 24 hours after Paddy Gower dropped his Shane Jones bombshell I would have broken that rule, I dunno, maybe 30-40 times.

Anyway I sat down this morning to address all the Facebook, twitter and email messages and well-wishers only to find my computer has well and truly crapped out.

Responding to them all on a smartphone is proving nigh on impossible.

So sorry if i don’t get back to people in a timely way.

So far people have been gracious regarding my pending return to parliament, but I expect the threats and nutters to start up again the closer we get to the Election. Oh well, such is the lot of a politician.

I just want to reinforce my four political priorities before RSI sets into my thumb.

People will no doubt criticise them and say there are other, better, more important things I should focus on, but I guess in the first instance I’ve got to be true to myself and focus on what I’m passionate about.

Priority 1: no surprises, improving Maori educational achievement, and more importantly, improving Maori achievements through education. I’ll argue to my dying breath that education is the road to Maori success.

Priority 2: Regional Development for Te Tai Tokerau. We’ve got plans and strategies coming out our ears in TTT, but unless a Govt stumps up with some serious dough to implement these plans we’re wasting our time. Even a quarter of 1 percent of the money going into the Christchurch rebuild would go a long way to rebuilding the Tai Tokerau economy. Te Tai Tokerau has endured it’s own tragedy, but it happened over 40 years not 40 seconds. The effects on our people have been equally devastating in the long run.

Priority 3: Te Reo Maori, it’s in a sad state and one of the reasons is that it has been rendered down in most communities to a ceremonial language that had little relevance to most peoples everyday lives. We need to make Te Reo a transactional language so that if i wish I can walk into any business, bank, supermarket, service station or pub and conduct my business in Te Reo if I choose. It is a right English speakers enjoy without having to think about it. Those who wish to conduct daily transactions in Te Reo do not enjoy this right. There are a number of simple and relatively inexpensive practical activities that can happen to get people speaking Te Reo in the community. A lot of dosh is being spent on initiatives that have questionable impacts on improving Te Reo. They need to be reprioritised.

Priority 4: Stopping sexual, physical and emotional abuse of women and children, and yes to men as well.

I was outraged with the Roastbusters scandal and the well publicized sexual abuse/ pedophile cases in Kaitaia over the last few years.

I sat back and waited for a male MP especially any male MAORI MP to make a stand and say something along the lines of “What the bloody hell is going on that men can treat women and children like this?” I was waiting for a male MP to take a stand and tell all of us men that this abuse is (predominantly) a male problem, and that we need to sort our shit out ourselves. We need to have serious conversations with our sons, grandsons and nephews about how a real man treats a woman. But i bet this is just too hard for most males.

I said in my maiden speech that it’s one thing to be born a male, but another thing entirely to become a man. We need to MAN up any have the balls to have those hard conversations with our boys.

Instead the only noise coming from male MPs was the sound of crickets chirping.

So I determined if no other male MP was prepared to stand up and start lecturing men on how we need to treat and love our women and children, and if I was ever in the position again to pick up that mantle, I will.

Some months ago I approached some people who work in this field and told them if i ever get back into parliament, tell me what I need to do to support them. I’ll give them a call soon.

So men, I don’t give a rats arse if I’m accused of not being a REAL bloke, I’ll still be a sports and rugby fanatic, get on the piss, keep up my fishing, shooting and getting lost up in the bush – but i love my wife, daughters, mother, sister, nieces,cousins, friends and colleagues too much to ignore sexual, physical and emotional abuse any longer.

 

So that’s me. No doubt I’ll make plenty of stuff ups along the way but what the hell. I’m determined to enjoy my second chance at this and loosen up a bit.

More than one Maori reporter had told me “You’re bloody hilarious on Twitter, but when we interview you you’re as dry as a brick. We need to see more of the real you.”

I’ll try to remember that advice, but in my own defence improving outcomes for Maori, growing the Tai Tokerau economy, breathing life in to Te Reo and stopping sexual, emotional and physical abuse is fairly serious work.

I better get on with it I guess.

Jones – Labour needs to pull finger

Labour list MP Shane Jones has acknowledged that Labour as a team needs to pull finger “or face a bleak future”.

Jones has just been interviewed on The Nation. He was asked what he thought of David Cunliffe’s performance.

While he understandably sidestepped that question he spoke with far more candour than most MPs would on the current state of Labour support.

He said it wasn’t just a problem with Cunliffe, he laid the responsibility on the whole Labour caucus, and all of them needed to do far better.

He acknowledged that 29% in a poll was not good, and that all the Labour MPs needed to work hard to lift their popularity. He believed that they would rise in the polls as we get closer to the election.

Jones said:

Unless we pull finger we’re looking at a bleak future.

He needs some of his colleagues to acknowledge the reality of their paltry polling. Blaming opponents, blaming bad polling and blaming media unfairness is hiding from the stark truth.

Labour are down and they have to accept and address their faults and problems, they need to take responsibility.

The need to stop pointing finger and as Jones says, pull finger.

Jones rubbishes NZ First speculation

Shane  Jones was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report and he has fairly comprehensively denied any attempt by him or by Winston Peters to get him to jump waka to NZ First (see Shane Jones and NZ First speculation).

 

Jones referred to Matthew Hooton’s speculation in an NBR article as, amongst other things, mischievous and scurrilous.

And Stuff reports I’m not leaving Labour – Jones

Labour MP Shane Jones denies he is planning an exit from Labour, but accepts his chance to be leader had “come and gone”.

When asked if he would be in the Labour Party at the next election, Jones said “absolutely”.

A curious comment from Jones about his chance to be leader having “come and gone”.

Does that mean if Labour miss out on forming the next government and David Cunliffe is dumped as leader Jones wouldn’t have another crack at the top job?

It’s possible that after the experience of last year’s leadership contest Jones realises he would never have wide enough caucus or party support, and he is unlikely to be backed by the union affiliates.