On Tuesday evening I was walking past Mac’s Brew Bar and sitting outside having a beer were Winston Peters and Shane Jones.
It got me thinking.
This is purely speculation, but it would solve issues for both men.
It is no secret Shane is not happy in Labour. He was furious with Shearer for calling in the Auditor-General. A number of women MPs there want him gone. He just clashed with Clare Curran on copyright parody exceptions. The grapevine suggests the Auditor-General’s report on his immigration decision may not be good for him. He will have a sense of grievance as I suspect he was told to let Liu become a citizen, as it will be good for Labour – and he now sees himself as the fall guy.
So with probably no future in Labour (does anyone think Shearer will make him front bench again?), but having undoubted political talent and smarts, could he prosper elsewhere? And NZ First is hardly likely to have objections over his ethical behaviour with citizenships, considering the Owen Glenn affair.
So what is in it for Winston (he is effectively the sole decision maker here)?
Well to give Winston credit he has defied the odds and survived multiple sackings and even being thrown out of Parliament in 2008, to come back in 2011. He has shown he is the great survivor. So what is the challenge for him now?
Well it is all about legacy, and his ultimate legacy would be a political party that can carry on without him, leaving him as revered founder. He is closer to 70 than 60, and can’t be keen on more than a couple more terms.
Now with all respect to his current caucus, none of them are up to taking over as leader. Some of them are competent and doing okay such as Tracey Martin and even Andrew Williams. But none of them could get 5% of the party vote.
However Shane Jones possibly could. He appeals to the same demographics as Winston, and are not that far apart on some policies – especially hating political correctness etc.
Could Jones defect to NZ First and become Deputy Leader (a job still vacant a year later), and heir apparent? He would add a couple of percent to the NZ First vote, and position them well to appeal to voters. If they hold the balance of power in 2014, then he is a senior Minister, and if Peters retires in 2017, leads NZ First into the next election. Fishing companies would be lining up to donate, and a fair few Iwi also I suspect.
Now this is all speculation, and there would be challenges, But it would give Jones a future, and would give Peters what he most needs – a party that can survive without him.
What do you think?