There’s strange rumour going around about who will fill the NZ First list seat vacancy created by Winston Peter’s stunning win in Northland. Ok, it kinda started from Matthew Hooton, but it’s grown legs in the last couple of days.
Next on the list is Ria Bond, a hairdresser from Invercargill. National made much of the fact that electing Winston would actually mean getting an extra MP from Southland, not Northland, but that may not turn out to be the case. While, technically, Bond is next in line, there is no guarantee that Winston won’t move in another direction. The Greens did something similar after the resignation of Nandor Tanczos, ignoring the list to parachute Russel Norman into parliament.
What I’m hearing is that NZ First are seriously considering bringing in a former MP, with strong links in the north and who might have a reasonable shot at winning Te Tai Tokerau now that mana have effectively collapsed. The person concerned is said to even be an odds on bet to take over the leadership when Winston retires in around 3 years.
So who is the ex MP?
Yep, the rumour is that Jones will either return to parliament immediately for NZ First or wait until the next general election to stand in TTT, with the backup of being number two on NZF’s list. I’m told the reason he may choose to wait is that his current gig is so lucrative he doesn’t want to drop down to the poverty level income of a mere backbench MP for the next couple of years. But if he wants back in immediately, according to the rumour, the list seat is his. Peters is poised to make the announcement in the next couple of days.
Now this presents an interesting dilemma for Labour. When Jones stood for the NZLP leadership he got significant support from the affiliated unions members. He struck a chord with blue collar workers in particular, including those within Andrew Little’s old union, the EPMU. While there are no guarantees in political life, it does seem likely that Winston will go into a coalition Government with Labour at the 2017 election. But would Shane Jones agree to do the same if he is NZF’s leader going into the election in 2020? Would he even try and talk Winston out of it in 2017 and push for a deal with his new blue mates in National?
And what would it mean for the Greens if Jones pushes for a return to the position Peters used to hold, which was that NZ First would not share the cabinet table with them?
Ok, folks, it’s only gossip and today is April Fools Day, but stranger things have happened. And I haven’t even mentioned the bit in the rumour about what this means for Stuart Nash
Update: Thanks to wtl for looking up the legislation around replacement list MP’s. Shane Jones cannot be parachuted in to replace Winston as he was not on the NZ First list at the 2014 election. Which raises another question. Why can’t a party choose whoever they want to fill such a vacancy? It’s a party vote, not a vote for the individuals on the list.