Well TV3 got very excited last night with juicy quotes from the so called black book from Saunders Unsworth and understandably there are stories today in the NZ Herald and the Dom Post mainly focusing on some of the quotes read out on TV3 last night about various MPs.
Some perspective on the SU publication might be useful. In doing so I should declare that in 2005 I sub-contracted Saunders Unsworth to do a small amount of work for a London based client of mine. The amount involved was very small and has no bearing on my impressions of SU which go back over a decade of parliamentary involvement.
The first thing is that this is not a new publication. It has been published after the last five elections and is very well known to those around Parliament and its target audience.
The second is that what is written about an MP will not generally come as a surprise to that MP because SU has always had a policy of allowing any MP to see their own entry. And much of the material in the book comes from talking to the MPs directly.
The third is that of course some MPs do not always appreciate what their profile says. Every time the book comes out there are always a few unhappy MPs. In fact the staff used to quite enjoy seeing MPs get hold of a copy of their profile and compare it to their colleagues to find out who got the better or worse review.
The fourth is that the profiles are quite lengthy and well researched. Taking one negative comment out of a several page profile gives a misleading impression it is just a ‘bitch’ book. People would not pay $800 for it if it was. SU generally start researching long before the election seeking information on candidates likely to do well and become MPs etc. I’ve seen quite a few profiles over the years and generally they have been pretty accurate with their predictions about an MP’s future career etc. However I do regularly hassle Mr Unsworth over his 1996 prediction that Neil Kirton had a stellar parliamentary and ministerial career ahead of him 🙂
Now some time ago SU gave me a copy of one of their profiles with permission to blog it. It is the one on Shane Jones. The profile is below so people can judge the publicity in context rather than judge it on the one line listed in the media of “has a rampant ego”.
Full Name Shane Jones
MP Since 2005
Electorate Stood unsuccessfully in Northland
Awanui. The eldest of five, father Peter is a dairy farmer and mother Ruth a school teacher. Tribal links Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and has Welsh and Dalmatian heritage.
Jones was deeply influenced by his paternal grandmother who taught him Maori oratory, culture and whakapapa. At school he described himself as