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NZ POLITICS DAILY: National’s poaching of Shane Jones – brilliant or dirty?

National’s audacious poaching of Shane Jones from the Labour Party caucus is undoubtedly a brilliant piece of strategic maneuvering. But should it also be viewed as a cynical, dirty and even ‘corrupt’ ploy to undermine the electoral chances of the Opposition? Shane Jones’ departure from Parliament to take up a job created by the National Government is a huge blow to Labour and this is best outlined by John Armstrong today in his column Resignation couldn't have come at a worse time.

This shock news raises all sorts of interesting and important issues about the Labour Party, but equally it raises questions about the role of National and it’s Machiavellian strategist Murray McCully.

National’s ploy – brilliant, dirty or both?
For a salute to the brilliance of McCully in poaching Jones, see Matthew Hooton’s Labour loses link to Winston (paywalled). Speaking of McCully, Hooton says ‘The old dog still has it in him.  Foreign minister Murray McCully’s luring of Labour’s best political performer Shane Jones to work for the government is one of the more stunning exhibitions of the dark arts we will ever see’.

TV3’s Patrick Gower has labelled the poaching of Jones ‘a dodgy deal’, arguing that ‘it is a complete and utter jack-up done primarily to hurt Labour’ – see: Crafty McCully's dodgy Jones deal. Gower also labels National’s strategist as ‘McCully-avelli’, and says that ‘the Prince of Darkness is back in business’, speculating on the rising stocks of McCully within National.

National is being accused of using the resources of the state to give it an advantage in its electoral competition. Traditionally, such appointments are termed ‘patronage’ and can be used either to benefit a party’s supporters or buy off their opponents.

Gordon Campbell makes this argument strongly, saying that ‘MFAT now operates as the Minister’s personal fiefdom, and as a political slush fund’ – see his column On the Shane Jones departure. The key part of Campbell’s column is this: ‘Presumably, Jones’ new salary is going to come out of either (a) the MFAT foreign aid budget or (b) the MFAT diplomacy budget. Reportedly, the role being designed for Jones will be at ambassadorial level. If so, this means that not only scant MFAT resources but the processes around the granting of diplomatic status and credentialling are to be contorted so that National can score political points in an election year. No one will be surprised that Jones has risen to the bait, but the cynicism of the exercise is breath-taking’.

Blogger No Right Turn takes an even harder line about the use of state resources for electoral purposes, saying in one post that if McCully had ‘offered Jones a briefcase full of cash to resign, we'd call it what it is: Corruption and bribery of member of Parliament. I don't see how creating him a special job is any different’ – see: Good riddance.

In "Shoulder-tapping" vs public service values, No Right Turn calls the appointment ‘a total violation of public service values, and an unlawful exercise of Ministerial power’. Similarly, the Secretary of the Public Service Association, Brenda Pilott (@PSAsecretary) has taken to Twitter to question the appointment, saying: ‘Is Shane Jones new appointment a public service role, or a ministerial one? If former, it's another mark of politicisation of public service’.

For more tweets – from a variety of perspectives – see my blog post Top tweets about Shane Jones resigning as a Labour MP. For another social media analysis, see Matthew Beveridge’s Twitter responds to Shane Jones retiring.

Hooton argues, in contrast, that the poaching of Jones by McCully ‘can’t be criticised for an appointment that is entirely legitimate. Mr Jones is one of New Zealand’s foremost experts in the seafood industry, given his long and controversial career at the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, and is well connected through the Pacific.  It is also in line with Mr McCully’s innovative approach to ambassadorial appointments, of not handing them out automatically to the foreign ministry’s old school but to search more widely for talent. Mr McCully now has the perfect Pacific economic ambassador’ – see: Labour loses link to Winston (paywalled).

Labour, too, is criticising the National Government for poaching, with David Cunliffe saying today that this was a ‘hell of a way’ for National to try to win an election, and ‘I guess at some point they're going to run out of embassies for all the opposition MPs. You can certainly see the hand of (Foreign Affairs Minister) Murray McCully on that’ – see Jane Patterson’s Shane Jones 'slips political collar'.

A major blow for Labour
Most political commentary today is emphasising how damaging Jones’ departure is for Labour. John Armstrong argues it ‘is close to an unmitigated disaster for Labour’ and provides very good reasons why in his column Resignation couldn't have come at a worse time.

Chronicling Labour’s strange official response to the Jones announcement, Vernon Small paints a picture of dysfunction in his column Jones' exit plunges Labour into disarray.

Matthew Hooton’s column (Labour loses link to Winston - paywalled) makes a further interesting point: ‘Mr Jones’ defection is deeply humiliating for Mr Cunliffe. On top of revelations Mr Jones’ Labour leadership campaign was part-funded by Sir Wira Gardiner, a former vice-president of the National Party and husband of education minister Hekia Parata, it reveals that Labour’s best political performer this year has been talking to even more people he shouldn’t have been, right under Mr Cunliffe’s nose. It exposes the lack of respect that Mr Jones has towards his leader – which he has made no secret of in his briefings of journalists and businesspeople – and that he either doesn’t think Mr Cunliffe can win the election or doubts the Labour caucus would elect him to the cabinet if he did’.

Identity politics divide in Labour
Not all on the political left are lamenting Shane Jones’ departure from the Labour caucus. In fact there is a major division of thought about how valuable Jones has been for the Labour Party. Much of this debate boils down to the issue of identity politics and concerns about social liberalism versus social conservatism. Jones was clearly in the more socially conservative camp within Labour, and many on the left have expressed strong reservations about Jones’ orientation towards issues of gender and even ethnicity. His orientation towards environmentalism and the Green Party were also of extreme irritation to many in Labour and on the left.

For this reason, some are celebrating his departure – the most vivid examples being Danyl Mclauchlan in ‘I told ya so’ of the day, Shane Jones edition, No Right Turn in Good riddance, and Martyn Bradbury in The blue collar cred smoko room mythology of Shane Jones as told by the msm.

Others have warned against a desire to rid Labour of all but a narrow range  of views. Speaking last night on the Paul Henry Show, Chris Trotter argued metaphorically that Labour if keeps on closing down it’s ‘cathedrals’ and ‘basilicas’ in favour of only ‘small chapels’ it ceases to be the ‘broad church’ it needs to be – see his 3-minute interview: Political expert calls Jones' departure 'significant'.

Jones’ departure may well spark further debate over what Labour should focus on. Josie Pagani argues the party needs to be more class-oriented, focusing on economic issues that truly impact on potential Labour voters, and less on social-liberal concerns. Pagani says Labour activists should ‘demand a focus on jobs, and higher wages, not on banning Nigella, or trucks, or roads, or whatever NGO the Labour party is trying to be this week’ – see: Warning to Labour; the heretic hunters are driving people away. Similarly, another blog accuses Labour of wanting to ‘reside over a utopia of ashes’ – see Fundamentally Useless’ The red bush tea party.

For a nuanced and thoughtful analysis of some of these issues, see Russell Brown’s Jones: The contender leaves.

Morgan Godfery, who is usually a staunch opponent of social conservatism, has penned a thoughtful and sympathetic tribute to Jones, essentially arguing why the identity politics critiques shouldn’t apply to the departing politician – see: Shane Jones: the political obituary. This is because ‘Maori political history isn't rich with choice. Telling us to wait for a more "progressive" candidate is deeply offensive’.

Finally, for some humour and visual history on the renegade politician, see my blog post Images of Shane Jones, David Slack’s re-published Metro column Shane Jones: a two-pack habit and a motel tan and Scott Yorke’s Good news, but enemies remain within the party.

Today’s links

Shane Jones

John Armstrong (Herald): Resignation couldn't have come at a worse time

TV3: Political expert calls Jones' departure 'significant'

Matthew Beveridge: Twitter responds to Shane Jones retiring

Fundamentally Useless: The red bush tea party

Vernon Small (Stuff):Jones' exit plunges Labour into disarray

Michael Fox and Vernon Small (Stuff): Labour in shock as Jones calls it quits

Claire Trevett (Herald): Jones shocks Labour by quitting

Newswire: Jones not upset with Labour, claims party president

Michael Sergel and Corazon Miller (Newstalk ZB): Jones escapes the political collar

TVNZ: Shane Jones: 'I've slipped the collar and I'm going'

Jane Patterson (Radio NZ): Shane Jones 'slips political collar'

Radio NZ: Maori Council praises Jones

Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): Shane Jones: the political obituary

Danyl McLauchlan (Dim-Post): ‘I told ya so’ of the day, Shane Jones edition

Claire Trevett (Herald): Labour MP Shane Jones to step down

TVNZ: Shane Jones says it was 'right time' to quit politics

Patrick Gower (TV3): Shane Jones to leave Labour, set to work with Murray McCully

TVNZ: Shane Jones says it was 'right time' to quit politics

The Standard: Shane Jones standing down as MP

TVNZ: John Key 'surprised' National MP's husband funded Labour campaign

3 News Online Staff (TV3): Key plays down National member's Labour donation

No Right Turn: Shane Jones confirms everyone's suspicions

Rob Salmond (Polity): Exit Jones, stage north

Vernon Small (Stuff): Shane Jones 'to quit Labour'

Claire Trevett (Herald): Labour MP Shane Jones to step down

Radio NZ: Labour's Shane Jones leaving politics

NBR: Shane Jones quitting politics - report

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Shane Jones resignation: Labour dodge a bullet & the Greens smile

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Shane Jones leaves Labour to take up job for National Government

TVNZ: Shane Jones to step down as Labour MP

Patrick Gower (TV3): Shane Jones to leave Labour, set to work with Murray McCully

Stuff: Profile: Shane Jones

Bryce Edwards (liberation): Top tweets about Shane Jones resigning as a Labour MP



TVNZ: Analyst predicts grim times for New Zealand economy

Michael Forbes (Stuff): Minister bursts analyst's bubble

Greg Presland (The Standard): The housing bubble

Radio NZ: Joyce pours scorn on bubble prediction

Chris Keall (NBR): Forbes 'bubble-ologist' jabs back at Steven Joyce

Andrew Dickens (Newstalk ZB): The problem with Jesse Colombo's NZ bubble theory

Brian Fallow (Herald): Four reasons not to panic about a property bubble

Peter Cresswell (Not PC): New Zealand’s Bubble Economy Is Vulnerable


Legal highs

Shane Cowlishaw (Stuff): Global Drugs Survey: The politics of pot

The Press: Editorial: Legal highs popular with Kiwis

Dominion Post: Editorial: Will legal highs last?

Dan Satherley (TV3): PM: Legalising cannabis won't kill legal highs

Pete George (Your NZ): MPs on cannabis

Pete George (Your NZ): ODT on legal highs and cannabis

Pete George (Your NZ): Key on cannabis – avoiding the elephant

Russell Brown (Hard News): Sorting out our thinking on drugs

RadioLIVE: Dunedin to propose legal high crackdown


Easter trading

The Press: Editorial: Time to drop Easter trading law

Dominion Post: Editorial: State washes hands of Easter trade laws

Colin Espiner (Stuff): Shop around for new law

Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Easter trading has MP fuming

3 News Online Staff (TV3): PM favours Easter trading law change

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Why Easter holidays should always be mandatory and retail free

Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): Coordination failure?

Eric Crampton (Offsetting Behaviour): Social costs of Easter

Chris Ford (Voxy): It's holiday time - but some employers won't have it!

Dominion Post: Editorial: Easter laws outdated


Judith Collins

Peter Wilson (Newswire): Lack of evidence saving Collins

Greg Presland (The Standard): It’s the little things …

Grant Duncan (Policy Matters): Should Collins lose her ministerial portfolios?

Stacey Kirk and Vernon Small (Stuff): Collins misled Parliament – Robertson

Newswire: Labour hurting itself in Collins dinner saga - Key


Ministerial disclosure

Brendan Manning (Herald): PM shoots down Greens proposal to release records of meetings

TVNZ: John Key slams Greens' ministerial disclosure plan as 'ridiculous'

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): John Key dismisses disclosure regime

No Right Turn: John Key hates transparency



Brian Edwards (BEM): What ACT’s Jamie Whyte could learn from Albert Einstein

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): The only one happy with ACTs new ’3 strikes’ for burglary will be private prisons

Pete George (Your NZ): On ACT’s 3 strikes for burglars policy

Herald: Editorial: Act Party's burglary law will strike out



Olivia Carville (Stuff): Shearer slates soaring power prices

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Wolak on electricity reforms



Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Government faces ACC levies criticism

Southland Times: ACC running true to form


Maori politics

Paul Easton (Stuff): Ngati Toa battle ends with $70m settlement

Radio NZ: NZ First votes against settlement

NBR Staff (NBR): Labour doesn’t deserve our vote - Tariana Turia

Michael Sergel (Newstalk ZB): Labour stands firm against claims it doesn't deserve the Maori vote

Stuff: Haka to get legal protection under new law

Radio NZ: Greens add PWA to Treaty policy



NZ Parliament: New Zealand at war announced on steps of Parliament in 1914

Colin James (ODT): What makes a national day? Not the Anzacs

Matthew Dallas (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Peace poppy not welcome


UN security council seat

NBR Staff (NBR): US Commander: US/New Zealand relationship best in thirty years. NZ well qualified for UN Security Council seat

Herald: US Admiral backs NZ's bid for UN security council


Drone attacks

Adam Bennett (Herald): PM refuses to comment on any further Kiwi deaths in Yemen

Radio NZ: PM won't comment on other possible drone deaths

Kennedy Graham (Frogblog): Drones in Yemen; policy in Wellington – ‘conflation’ or global thinking?

David Kennedy (Local Bodies): John Key Aspires to Mediocrity


Internet Party

Callum Sweeney (Idealog): Kim Dot Com’s canny youth work

Matthew Beveridge: Hekia Parata and the Internet Party



Herald: Editorial: Standing up to Japan vital in trade talks

Steven Cowan (Against the Current): People Planet Peace over Profit


Nigella Lawson

TVNZ: Greens don't think Nigella Lawson should be punished over drug use

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Labour again focusing on the big issues

Michele A’Court (Stuff): Forgiving Nigella Lawson for drug-taking



Frank Newman (Breaking Views): Housing to be a hot election topic

Simon Collins (Herald): Community, iwi groups lobby to buy state houses cheap

Tova O’Brien (TV3): Dying mother makes tearful plea to Housing NZ



Jonathan Swan (Stuff): Australia looks to NZ for disability reform ideas

Sacha Dylan (Access): Who Are Disabled New Zealanders?



Radio NZ: Police mistake payouts double in year

Anthony Willy (NZCPR): Privilege and the Rule of law

Matthew Beveridge: John Key and David Cunliffe’s Facebook Pages

No Right Turn: The GCSB has a credibility problem

Matthew Backhouse (Herald): Gender pay gap down to 'subconscious bias'

Radio NZ: Unions seek prosecution over deaths

Liam Dann (Herald): Govt's selldown - marks out of 10

Rob Salmond (Polity): Nerdy praise for The Nation

The Standard: Wealth and the wealthy

Radio NZ: Fiji political parties decry Wellington's regime election support

Nikki Preston (Herald): Ex-PM champions teen's desire to make a difference

Liam Hehir (Stuff): Building a sense of solidarity

Dave Armstrong (Herald): Cinema liquor knockback was right

Rob Kidd (Stuff): Foreign language teaching archaic: academic

Radio NZ: Poverty committee not fully supported – Turia

Amy Maas (Herald): MP to the rescue

Bevan Hurley (Herald): National luminary married in private rest home ceremony

Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Social media study comes in for criticism

Nelson Mail: After royal waves and smiles, a serious debate

Marty Sharpe (Stuff): 'Bully Cunliffe' tweet history, says candidate

Southland Times: Editorial: Is there a problem officer . . . ?

Tim Selwyn (Daily Blog): TV Review: Seven Sharp: third strike lucky

Efeso Collins (Daily Blog): The PI vote and political stunts

Steven Cowan (Against the Current): Vote more of the same


Comments and questions

Bryce, on what basis do you designate Shane Jones as a social conservative? Certainly, he was on the Labour Right, and would have probably made Minister of Commerce in any Cunliffe or Robertson administration. Sure, he was blokey, but since when does that mean reactionary politics?

As for Jose Pagani's 'identity politics' comment, oh please! That tends to assume that feminists, Maori, disability rights and LGBT rights groups are not interested in redistributive/social democratic politics for our own reasons- such as sustaining a viable public health system and comprehensive welfare state in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the case of gay men, for instance. You should see the anger on the DPA Facebook page over Tony Ryall's administration of the health portfolio.

...and just sayin' - it's impossible to "poach" someone if they do not want to be poached, or are not interested.

Only in slave / forced Labour camps can anyone compel someone else to "work" when they don't want to - otherwise, people come and go as they decide what is best for themselves long term.

So Jones wasn't "poached" he just realised a much greater prospect.

Tactically in a run up to the Election it was a master stroke to take Jones out of play, he has a certain type charisma, plus a typical political motor mouth, but one of the best in the business, plus he's more National than Labour, he is one hell of a loss to Labour, and it probably declares his dislike for the temporary Leader, but the rest of the Red sheep won't dare go through the gate and continue to live their lies.
Plus it is very easy to walk the plank, with the massive Superannuation that they give themselves.

Oh it's brilliant, love it! May the games commence

I trust that Murray McCully will also ensure that Shane Jones' hotel bill expenditure is very very very carefully scrutinised - I am otherwise happy that my meagre contribution to the Foreign Affairs budget will have been well spent!

Now there's an idea, a Pacific roving so called ambassador who is easily swayed by money offers, yeah that should work well and what is his position on whaling?

A national Maori fisheries body has told the International Whaling Commission it is "degrading" for indigenous groups to have to go cap-in-hand to maintain whaling traditions while resources are exploitated by other cultures. Matiu Rei, chairman of Te Ohu Kaimoana which advocates for Maori fisheries rights, addressed the International Whaling Commission earlier this week and discussed the indigenous whaling catch.
What support the organisation would get from wider Maoridom for a return to whaling is unclear. Whales are protected by the Department of Conservation under the Marine Mammals Act. Successive governments have backed the moratorium on whaling which dates to 1986 and opposed controversial "scientific" whaling for research purposes such as that carried out by Japan.

However, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said New Zealand backed indigenous whaling - to an extent. "We are willing to support proposals to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling that meet the criteria set by the International Whaling Commission and would not significantly impede the recovery of depleted populations." The Conservation Minister was not available for comment yesterday. (NZH 2012) .