Rob Hosking writes:
It appears Mr Mark’s move is aimed at forestalling any bid to recruit former Labour MP Shane Jones in to the party and to be installed as Mr Peters’ successor.
This has long been rumoured and on the surface it makes sense. Mr Jones and Mr Peters are known to be close: both are Northlanders by origin, and now Mr Peters holds the Northland seat Mr Jones is in a good position to take it if and when Mr Peters stands down.
Mr Peters himself is 70 and visibly flags at times in Parliament. The blokey, big personality of Mr Jones fits the New Zealand First brand rather well, and having left Labour because he no longer fitted within that rather shrunken, politically correct organisation, will be looking for a new vehicle.
So the received wisdom goes.
The trouble is, this could only work if New Zealand First MPs were prepared to behave like dumb cattle.
They might be known as “hillbillies” around Parliament but New Zealand First MPs are not beasts of burden at the beck and call of Winston Peters. They are, after all, politicians. They have politicians’ egos.
The ‘received wisdom’ that the whole thing would be neatly done by shipping Mr Jones in over the heads of the caucus always looked like the kind of idea cooked up in some room in Wellington and which involved the human beings involved behaving, well, not like human beings.
It was never going to work – at least, not without a major and highly destructive fight.
All this assumes, of course, Mr Jones actually wants the job.
But does he?
Leading a small political party is a huge job. Taking over someone else’s small political party, when most of the caucus members of that party do not want you there?
It doesn’t sounds like a job with a future.
Rob is right, and wrong.
He is right that Shane Jones can not just be foisted on a caucus that doesn’t want him.
He is also right that Jones may not want the job – especially if pushed onto colleagues who don’t want him. He had enough of that in Labour!
But where Rob may be wrong is the assumption that the caucus would not want him. Sure half of them probably think they could be leader, but deep down they will be worried that without Winston they won’t make 5% or hold Northland, and then all of them are unemployed.
I also understand that Mark and Jones get on quite well.
So I wouldn’t write off yet the possibility of Jones.