Shaw could work with Peters with gritted teeth

James Shaw has said he would prefer not to have to work with Winston Peters, but would if it meant changing the Government (getting National out of power).

This suggests he sees a NZ First dictated coalition as better for the country than the current Government.

It also implies that he thinks a Labour+Green+NZ First collation would do better for Green policy preferences than National+Green

Newshub: ‘If I have to’ – Greens co-leader James Shaw on working with Winston Peters

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he’ll work with Winston Peters if that’s what it takes to change the Government.

“If you look at the trends in the polls… it’s about level pegging,” says Mr Shaw. “This is a very close election.”

“I can [work with Mr Peters] if I have to. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

It may be the Greens only choice if they refuse to work with National.

Last year Mr Shaw and his co-leader Metiria Turei were split on whether working with the National Party was a possibility – Mr Shaw open to it, and Ms Turei “100 percent” against it.

It is claimed that Green Party members, who theoretically at least would make any decision on who they would and wouldn’t go into coalition with, are strongly against working with National.

On current polling Labour+Greens are nowhere near getting a majority, and Labour has gone backwards in the latest Newshub poll to 26%. Greens didn’t pick up all Labour’s shed support, they were on 12.5% but combined that is less than 40%.

NZ First rose more to 9.4% and may challenge Greens for the third party spot. They may have no choice than to go with NZ First and Labour.

If that happens it won’t only be Shaw with gritted teeth.

In an interview with The Spinoff in March, Ms Turei said despite Mr Peters being “annoying as hell” and holding “racist views”, she admired him for his tenacity and the advice he’s given her over the years.

Shane Jones looks set to join NZ First and seems to have more rancid racist views – see Jones signals a rancid approach.

Greens claim to be much better than this, but Shaw suggests they would join with it anyway, ironically to oust National who have more open immigration policies than Labour and especially NZ First.

Who needs principles when you want power?

Jones signals a rancid approach

Shane Jones joining Winston Peters and NZ First has been signalled for months. One report suggested an announcement was imminent.

Jones has signalled his approach to campaigning with comments on immigration.

Newshub:  Shane Jones’ anti-immigration slur

Former Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development Shane Jones has let loose on the Government’s immigration policy, slamming it as “conceited”.

In response, Mr Jones slammed the current Government’s immigration policy.

“The Government’s become conceited, it’s got an unhinged immigration policy, international education is now synonymous with butter chicken – rancid,” he said.

Peters has long played a careful anti-immigrant game.

Jones has signalled a more openlv rancid approach.

He will no doubt be attract media attention, but time will tell whether he can attract votes for NZ First. He could amplify Winston’s dog whistling, but this risks overstepping and dragging NZ First down.

If his comments here are an indication his gungho approach may end up in the gutter – there are some votes there bu it could also turn others off.

NZ First succession plan

There has been a lot of speculation about what Winston Peters’ political plans are, which is all that can be done because he never says.

Included increasingly in the speculation is what might happen to NZ First after Peters retires, and whether there is a succession plan.

Peters has been undisputed leader of NZ First since the beginning, way back in the last century.

Ron Mark took over the deputy leadership from Tracey Martin in 2015.

So what are the leadership options for NZ First? Peters is 72, his health has long been questioned (but never confirmed), and he seems to have lost his edge and enthusiasm in Parliament.

Duncan Garner: There’s an election looming and Winston Peters has got a succession problem to sort

… at 72 it’s no secret Peters will be thinking about what’s next for the party and with the momentum he has in the polls currently, this is the year to bring in the succession plan.

Take a look around the caucus and the options are a bit lacking – not because there aren’t any MPs successful in their own right. There’s business brains, legal brains and hard workers, but there’s no real X factor.

Mark seems to have ambitions but unlike Peters the media doesn’t give him self promotion opportunities.

In his sixties Mark is not a spring chicken himself, he’s more of an autumn rooster with more crow than peck.

The reality is nobody in the NZ First caucus wants to talk about the worst-kept secret in town – Shane Jones joining the party – because he’s the answer to the party’s prayers, but not necessarily their own.

Jones has spark, he’s clued-up, he knows how to work a crowd and people can’t help but like him.

The media seem to be doing their best to play the game for Jones but it’s yet to be seen whether headlines translate into votes. Peters has his wine box to show for his efforts, Jones is best remembered for his porn tab.

Only problem is – and it’s one Peters is well aware of – is his deputy Ron Mark’s place in the bromance.

Mark has been loyal to Peters and they’re mates – even if Peters knows his second-in-command still has a thing or two to learn about how to talk to voters without rubbing them up the wrong way.

The way the Jones game is being played suggests that Peters sees him as the captain to succeed him.

When Jones likely announces his candidacy in the next couple of weeks Peters is going to need one hell of a team-building day for his caucus before heading out on the campaign trail.

While Mark might say he “likes” Jones and plays rugby with him – you don’t have to look too far to find the opportunities he’s taken to have a dig.

Last year he complimented Jones on doing a “very good job” in his role as Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development – but in the same breath threw in the fact it was a job set up for him by then-Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

It does Mark well to point out that Jones, a former Labour MP, then moved on to take a cushy job with National and is now looking for a foot in the door with his old pal, Winston.

Just this week Mark was asked whether he thought he and his deputy leadership was under threat from Jones.

“To perceive there’s a threat to yourself you have to have some sort of insecurity about yourself and I am comfortable with the job I have and what I do for the party,” he shot back at reporters.

Mark may not roll over easily.

One thing in Peters’ favour is he has a disciplined caucus – although much of that is probably to do with the fact there’s a lot they simply don’t get told.

If Peters stands down so does that long standing discipline.

Internal polling isn’t shared with the caucus because it’s a distraction and Peters doesn’t want his MPs losing sight of the prize.

a) NZ First does internal polling despite the disdain for polls often expressed by Peters?

b) Peters doesn’t share polling with the NZ First caucus? If so, remarkable.

And if a NZ First MP gets heard or quoted talking about what they might get in any coalition government after the election they can be assured they’ll find themselves sliding down the party list, which is set to be announced in early August.

NZ First MPs have slid out of contention before, with an apparent helping boot up the bum from Peters.

Peters is adamant he’s got some big players joining the party list – names he says anyone in politics will recognise.

But if Peters wants to have more time at sea fishing then based on the current list, he needs Jones.

Given the blue movie controversy and dodgy citizenship deal jibes Jones is going to have to endure you have to wonder, what exactly has he been offered to seriously consider a return to Parliament?

If Peters wants NZ First to survive after he retires he has to help it with a succession plan.

Part of that plan may well be to get Jones on board, position NZ First on the cross benches after the election and both enable and prove a pain in the arse to whoever runs the Government, while giving Jones a chance to get set as leader in waiting. Peters may well retire during the next term.

But no matter how he plans things, and no matter how smoothly any leadership transition is, NZ First without Winston will find the going very tough – especially if  two cocks like Mark and Jones compete to rule the hen pecked house.

Peters and Jones charisma on steroids?

Jo Moir suggests that Winston Peters and Shane Jones are “charisma on steroids” in There’s an election looming and Winston Peters has got a succession problem to sort:

Winston Peters is the Godfather of personality politics…resonating with the public, having charisma and spark, being relatable – it’s the only game in town in an election year.

Shane Jones joining the party – because he’s the answer to the party’s prayers, but not necessarily their own.

Jones has spark, he’s clued-up, he knows how to work a crowd and people can’t help but like him.

When Jones and Peters rock up together to watch the Lions v Provincial Barbarians game in Whangarei tonight you’ll struggle to find another pair who will generate more attention than them.

Together, they’re charisma on steroids.

That seems a bit excessive. Sure both Peters and Jones can work a crowd and appeal to some, but how many?

Peters certainly has his base of fans, and I have seen him in person successfully working the crowd – the party faithful – at their conference in Dunedin last year.

But there’s a limited market for the ancient jokes repeated, the scowling at opponents and the media, more bottom lines than a fat octogenarian, and an aversion to committing to what he would do if given the chance to negotiate a coalition deal.

Some NZ First votes come from the “I love Winston” devotees, but many more are probably closer to “stuff the rest”.

What about Jones? A lot has been said about his potential pulling power for NZ First should he join them (which is widely expected).

Jones spent most of three terms in Parliament as a list MP. He failed to win an electorate, and he failed make a significant impact in a weak Labour line up after Helen Clark stood down.

He stood in the Northland electorate in 2005 and 2008, getting less than half the votes of National’s John Carter (Peters won Northland in a by-election in 2015).

Jones switched to the Maori electorate of Tāmaki Makaurau for the 2011 election and got within 936 votes of the Maori Party’s Pita Sharples, but got over 6% fewer votes than Labour’s party vote.

Jones was known more for controversies (ministerial credit card records, the Yan controversy) and his less than stellar work ethic than his achievements. His spokesperson roles in Labour were minor before being stripped of them in 2010.

The best things going for both Peters and Jones is not their charisma with the public or the voters, but in their ability to get talked up disproportionately by media.

They seem to make better headlines than politicians.

Polls and Peters

Media have been making a big thing about Winston Peters after poll results come out for years. A lot of nonsense has been spouted, and there’s been very poor analysis in the rush to promote the headline maker.

Peters seems to have had more proclamations of ‘king maker’ than Queen Elizabeth 2 has had curtseys.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff: Poll numbers and record immigration election-year music to Peters’ ears

The heavy breathing would have gone up the Richter scale with two figures out this week.

The first was a Roy Morgan poll putting Peters at 10.5 per cent support.

A caution here. Both Labour and National will tell you they don’t put too much stock in the Morgan poll, as its numbers can move around a lot. But over time it is a useful indicator of trends. And Peters is definitely trending.

Not really. NZ First has been fluctuating up and down in polls.

His numbers are particularly significant because Peters has a history of finishing strongly  As the Morgan poll notes, in 2011 NZ First averaged 3.5 per cent for much of the election year before winning 6.59 per cent of the vote.

In 2015 Peters averaged 5 per cent support and got 8.66 per cent on election night (the final round of polls had him at about 8 per cent).

She means 2014.

His rise appears to be starting early this year.

I think that’s nonsense on two counts.

The terms ending in 2011 and 2014 were quite different to this term. In those terms NZ First support dropped significantly between elections and rose significantly late in the election campaigns.

This term NZ First hasn’t dropped the same, in large part due to the publicity and success of Peters’ by-election win just a few months into the term.

And NZ First polled higher in Roy Morgan polls last year, eased back, and has bounced back. That is not a trend.

On top of that the political situation is quite different this term, with the National led government in it’s third term, and with John Key resigning. And Labour is onto their fourth leader post-Clark, and Labour and Greens are presenting as a combined option.

Here are NZ First poll results (Roy Morgan) for 2016 and to April in 2017:

RoyMorganNZFirst2017April

Since peaking at 12.5 a year ago the trend seems to be very flat with fluctuations barely outside the margin of error.

And Colmar Brunton is similar so far this year for NZ First:

  • February 2017 – 11%
  • March 2017 – 8%

Reid Research:

  • March 2017 – 7.6%

About al that can be taken from this is that:

  • NZ First support has stayed higher this term than in the previous two terms,
  • Their support is fluctuating up and down, not trending,
  • The political situation this election is quite different to the last two elections.

With about five months to go until the election it’s impossible to predict what NZ First support will do in the polls, and how it will end up in the election.

I think NZ First is unlikely to end up with less support than in the 2014 election (8.66%, up from 6.59% in 2011), unless something unexpected happens like Peters gets sick.

But it is pure speculation trying to predict how much higher they may go.

Shane Jones is expected to be announced as a candidate next month – that could help their chances, or it might not. Jones’ popularity, especially outside Labour, is untested. He lost to Pita Sharples in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate in 2011.

And Jones isn’t all that popular in NZ First: Never Shane: NZ First members oppose political return of Shane Jones

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.

Some NZ First MPS, deputy Ron Mark in particular, may be uneasy about Jones being promoted too.

A lot may depend on how well received this year’s budget is, and how well Bill English does in the election campaign, as that will determine whether National sheds votes or not (they are currently looking shakier than previously in polls).

But it’s not a given that National voters will switch to NZ First.

A lot could also depend on whether Andrew Little and Labour strike a chord with voters or not.

NZ First support could be anywhere between 10-15% (higher would be unusual but not impossible).

But it’s far too soon to get any good idea of where they might end up.

A key factor could be whether the voters are comfortable with NZ First holding the balance of power or not. They have avoided that in the last three elections.

 

Shane Jones and NZ First

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.

Stuff: Never Shane: NZ First members oppose political return of Shane Jones

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.

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.