Guest Post: Shane Jones, “Heretic Hunting” and Waitakere Man

David is back next week to resume his regular posting but I wanted to bring Kiwiblog readers’ attention to Josie Pagani’s comments about Shane Jones’ departure at Pundit (thanks to Whale for first pointing it out). She and Cameron’s analysis dovetail neatly with my Guest Post on why Labour is polling so poorly.

She quotes gloats from Labour’s left:

“Here’s what Martyn Bradbury said on the Daily Blog tonight:

Labour dodge a bullet….(it’s like) the relief of a haemorrhoid being surgically removed, losing Shane Jones is no different to that. Good riddance”.

Here’s a taste of what they’re saying on The Standard:


22 April 2014 at 6:40 pm

no shane jones was labours john key and accordingly pushed national policies. HE WAS IN THE WRONG PARTY HENCE HE HAS DISCUSSIONS WITH MCCULLY FOR SOME TIME.”

Some, not happy to stop at driving Shane out, want to see others gone too:

Kerry @plateaunz Protected Tweets  

Goff Mallard and King should have walked the plank.”

There’s no problem finding other Labour party staffers and candidates who share the view that Labour needs fewer not more people on its side, and that it can define itself by throwing people out rather than bringing them in. These are the militants who make every issue, from man bans to building roads a litmus test, and if you fail – good riddance.

The viciousness of these heretic hunters is driving people out of the Labour party at a time when Labour needs all the votes it can get.

If you disagree with these policy police or attempt to debate an issue, you are not just an opponent  – you’re an enemy within.

This is a warning call for Labour; very few extra votes will be attracted to Labour because people like Shane are being driven out. And the more people who are driven out of the party, the more the party is dominated by people who don’t even realise there is a problem, let alone what the problem is. The risk then, is not just that Labour ends up in opposition next year, but that it is in no better position to heal itself for future elections.”

This is Labour’s problem neatly summed up by an insider on the left who grew up learning her quite accurate political instincts watching her father John’s political experience as a key advisor to the Alliance and the Progressives. Josie Pagani typifies the type of well travelled professional with a social conscience that used to find an easy home inside Labour’s once broad church …..not anymore as Pagani’s post was met with negative comments from the left wing’s echo chamber (mickysavage aka Greg Presland, Danyl McLauchlan and others).

Jones saw no future for someone like him in modern Labour and left. Despite getting more positive publicity for Labour over the Countdown Supermarkets alleged stand-over tactics than almost all of his colleagues put together (including David Cunliffe), his potentially centre vote winning messages that the Greens in Cabinet would be a disaster (earning him a telling off from Cunliffe), oil and gas exploration should be embraced by Labour (contradicted by Labour’s energy spokesperson) and speaking out for Waitakere Man were ignored. Jones realised that Labour was behaving like a losing party, was saddled with a flawed leader, had embedded the power of its left wing activists via the party wide leadership voting system and, even if Cunliffe had stumbled across the line on September 20, knew the chances of his being elected to a new Cabinet by Labour’s left leaning caucus were slim.

Pagani joins Chris Trotter in sensing the coming disaster for Labour (albeit for different reasons than Trotter):

“Today there is only one way to stop a calamity, and that is for genuine progressive to run towards the party and 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.

Focus on what Labour is for, and stop being against every passing thing the government does. We want to hear more from people who celebrate New Zealanders and less from the heretic hunters who want to purge the party.”

John Armstrong agrees as well (as David has said in the previous post):

“A fair chunk of these minorities have formal representation within Labour’s organisation. But in seeking to secure their pound of flesh in terms of policy gains in return for votes, their agendas have become increasingly out of sync with the far more apolitical or conservative-leaning wider New Zealand public.

With the left of the party running its own agenda which puts purity ahead of pragmatism, Labour’s appeal is shrinking. Those voters whom Labour needs to capture will see Jones’ exit as a further narrowing of Labour’s appeal. The “broad church” is turning into The Temple of the Tyranny of the Minority.”

The purge that began in 1988 has still not finished and will only stop when Labour is humiliated into an electoral rump that approximates only its core minority constituencies. Jones’ departure, and the factional infighting it has provoked, has merely put the spotlight on the ‘Heretic Hunting‘ driving Waitakere Man into the waiting arms of John Key.

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