Brian Edwards Media

Could this man be Prime Minister of New Zealand?

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know that I have in the past written some pretty scathing posts on Labour’s Shane Jones. Not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve dismissed him not only as a future leader of the Party, but as a worthwhile Member Of Parliament and a decent human being.

Then, yesterday, I came across this video on the Herald’s website. And I had no choice but to radically change my previous opinion and to do so with a degree of regret that it had ever been expressed. I’d had a preview of Shane Jones’ debating skill and facility with words a week or two back when he was interviewed on The Nation by Paddy Gower. But this was something different. It was an extraordinary display not only of oratory and the art of persuasive communication but of subtlety of thought and intellectual depth, leavened with humour. It was theatre. One need not go far to look for a reason. Jones is equally fluent in Maori and English. But his impact when he combines the two is nothing less than extraordinary. Well, he is also a man who provokes strong feelings of approval and disapproval, a high-risk candidate for the highest office in the land. But as I watched and re-watched this speech, I thought I could perhaps see a future Leader of the Opposition and a Prime Minister to boot.

Decide for yourself:


  1. The Grey Lynn mafia hate him, so that has to count for something I suppose.

    I doubt his personal life could withstand the character assassination from the right though.

    • I’m not so sure. The nation quickly forgave him his overseas TV viewing habits when he apologised. His current relationship situation is fairly well known. So unless there’s more…

      • 1.1.1

        I hear there is…

        What I have not forgotten about his viewing habits is that he paid top dollar for something which everyone knows is freely available for free. If he were PM, we’d probably be buying our drinking water from Australia.

  2. He is the Labour politician most likely to attract middle-ground voters from National.

    Regrettably, I doubt he will ever be given the chance to prove it.

  3. Too old and unnatractive in this day and age to be Prime Minister. It doesnt matter how or what he says…

    • Then God bless us everyone!

      • dont get me wrong I wish politicians like him could become prime minister … but we seem to have gone down a ford factory for leaders …


          Shane Jones epitomizes much that is wrong with our national culture, Living in The Past.


            that’s the parochial, patriarchal, squat on and mine past.


              And Jones supporters would dismiss that as the lament of the Chardonnay Socialists.

              The New Zealand Labour Party – a conglomeration of factions usually warring with one another, thereby self-imolating and handing power to National by default since…forever!


                Agree with you 100% there Kimbo. How is that!

                Thats way Labour leaders have to be a special breed. An almost unique blend of patriarch, matriarch, unifier, negotiator, orator, patriot and fierce intelligence.

                Labour party leaders can’t just smile and wave and get away with it like National party leaders.

                You can bank on it that any successful leader of the Labour party has ultimately been forged through the heat of the various factions, or ‘broad congregation’.


                  Indeed. You left out “cat herder”.

                  National is the party of the steady-as-she-goes status quo.

                  Labour is the party of reform. Which means you attract the dreamers, the fractious, the impatient, and those easily-disillusioned with pragmatic reality.


                  Kimbo, you left out “National is the party of the steady-as-she-goes hock the family silverware, siphon off the cream for ourselves, our crony corporate mates, at the expense of the general populace, status quo modus operandi”


                  Kat – you forgot to add that the ability to walk on water is also a required attribute.


                Labour sure do come out with some doozies that leave supporters like myself cringing and grimacing (related to gnashing and wailing) :)


                  he he

                  Don’t worry, RT – at least you have the good sense and taste know that is so.

                  Unlike others not to far from here who always cheerlead for the latest incarnnation of “doozies”. Caravans – hah!

                  As Rob Muldoon summarised, “there’s always some in every town. Loyal – but not too bright!”.


                  Didn’t Rob Muldoon tow a caravan with a Triumph car?


            Yep, he’s smart and interesting but, as a chick, I can’t help thinking he looks down on me.

            Quite apart from being personally annoying, to me old-school bigotry of any kind sends the message that the person isn’t intelligent enough to move beyond it. So I always end up not angry but dismissive of the bigot.

  4. Is theatre enough?

  5. I think we know which is the REAL Shane Jones and would not be fooled by the theatre for long.

  6. Years ago I saw him talk on the grounds at Waitangi and was just unbelievably impressed by his oratory and mana. From that time I was sure that his star would rise. He is a wonderful orator with a fantastic gift of the gab. And Brian you are dead right. It is high theatre, something that is often mesmerizing in politics.

  7. Good that Labour has some choice at the top. There are at least three potential PM’s in Labours ranks. National on the other hand has only Paula Benefit.

  8. Clever people & great thinkers are often complex with flaws that match gifts. Obviously it is easier for someone as dull as John Key or David Cunliffe to become Prime Minister but that doesn’t mean that Shane JOnes wouldn’t be as or more effective.

    Flawed people who acknowledge their flaws and manage them are to my mind stronger than those who are lucky enough to be blemish free. The examined and managed flaws inform a more nuanced ability to understand and lead.

  9. I didn’t see what you saw Brian.
    He is usually so full of hubris (is that what some people call mana?) that it is hard to connect with him.
    He rates himself more highly than the people around him – he likes to use flowery language and it alienates him from the rest of us.
    The difference between him and, say, Kennedy (whom Cunliffe seems to fancy himself as reincarnate) is that he doesn’t project humility.
    At the risk of committing a Jonesism there is also the little matter of something ad man David Ogilvy said:
    “When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’
    But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’”
    When the New Zealand’s Demosthenes arrives, perhaps we’ll have our leader. In the mean time John Key, who deliberately articulates nothing is our avatar.

    • Good comment. And I agree that Jones conveys arrogance and have told him so in person. But ‘humility’. Spare me. Humility appears to be the only thing you can boast of in New Zealand and is often a symptom or inarticulateness or lack of real personality.

      • Perhaps humility is the wrong word – we have an ‘auto-pilot’ culture now.

        Leaders like Helen Clark and Rob Muldoon scarred the nation’s psyche – I don’t think we have an appetite for ‘strongmen’ or those who batter their way through (Key does this blandly by never addressing the issue – or offering ‘whatever’ as his considered response).

        The sooner there is an ‘app’ for leader – the better.
        Reskin it to your taste.
        Behind the scenes a policy wonk pulls the levers like the Wizard of Oz – the app/avatar makes it palatable – according to to your personal preference.

      • 9.1.2

        The three jewels of Taoism; compassion, moderation and humility.

        • There are certainly people who are naturally modest about their qualities and achievements. One can scarcely find fault with that. Being humble because you’re aware that that is what society expects of you is a rather different matter. It’s ‘the done thing’, a sort of socially imposed humility. I’m inclined to think that people should be able to enjoy their success, whether in business, sport, the media or anywhere else. It’s not a matter of boasting but of expressing pleasure in achievement. You have to be bloody careful of doing that in Godzone.

          This is my fun example: A man jumps into a crocodile infested river to save a child who has fallen in. The crocodile bites off the man’s arms and legs, but the distraction allows the child to reach the bank and climb out of the river. Onlookers finally manage to pull the bleeding torso out of the water. ‘You’re a hero,’ they say to the man. ‘It was nothing,’ the man replies, ‘Anyone else would have done the same.’ A real Kiwi hero.

          But the truth is that very few people indeed would have done what the man did. It’s an absurd thing to say. He really was a hero.

          There’s ‘humility’ and ‘humility’. Too often the New Zealand brand reminds me of Uriah Heep.

          • Wasn’t Uriah Heep a money lender character from Dickens, I suspect your not referring to the authors of Demons and Wizards!


            I think the term you fullas are looking for here is “false modesty”. And yeah, not an attractive trait.

    • if humility is what one aquire’s from the systematic murder of thousands of people then Kennedy had it in spades. Real humility comes with not being embarrassed by your porn fancies being discussed in public.

  10. So are you suggesting ditching Cunliffe before the election or waiting for inevitable defeat and the install Jones?

    If the caucus elected the leader he might have a chance but he will never be chosen by Labour’s Rainbow and academic wings. Robertson or Ardern have the impeccable credentials to lead Labour to oblivion should Cunliffe fail.

    • Your mouth shall become intimate with your foot post Sept 20, Ben.

      • 10.1.1

        Sept 20? I can find no post and I was overseas in Sept 2013. Please enlighten me on what I said and when?

        • Kat means this year’s election date, 20 Sept 2014.

          Don’t worry. As Kat gets closer to election dates she gets more excited, and “senses something special stirring” (refer to posts in 2011!).

          • Glad to have you along as chronological and political medis interpreter Kimbo.

            • Media!


              I was clearly half asleep. Given the vagaries of MMP you may be proved right but it will be a rag tag and bobtail victory and good luck to Cunliffe trying to manage the riff raff from the Greens, mana and, God help us, the Internet party.

              It realty will be a case of God defend New Zealand.

    • “So are you suggesting ditching Cunliffe before the election or waiting for inevitable defeat and the install Jones?”

      No, that’s why I used the term ‘future leader’. The election isn’t very far away.

  11. He is in the wrong party or may be in the right party but that party seems to be in some wierd place infested with identity and beltway issues of no interest to anyone outside a narrow clique.

  12. Unfortunately what counts politically is not oratory and mana, but numbers.

    John A Lee was probably the best orator NZ ever had. He commanded the respect of the opposition and his own ranks but it did him little good. I believe it was a quote from one of his war memories that went “no matter how courageous they are when it comes to men against machinery, machinery wins”

    Though Shane’s quoted performance has impressed and converted you Brian, he represents a threat to the ‘rainbow rabble’.

    And they have the numbers.

    • Are you implying that the Labour party is a gay rabble adorned in shrouds of rainbow colours?

      My next door neighbour is a hunk of a builder and has a boyfriend. he secretly admits to voting for Act….in the past.

      • Not implying. Stating.

      • Hardly surprising now is it? They seem to be good earners, unencumbered by children, with money to spend on consumer items and possibly bitter about having to pay the tax they do. Just the sort of voters who might find the Association of Consumer’s and Taxpayer’s Party their brand of politics. Whichever way I look at it, I have always thought there was something queer about the ACT party, given the bizarre individuals it has had in its ranks.

        [Edited because of potential defamation action.]

      • I believe the collective term is “gaggle”.

        Or at least it that is what West Coasters call them.

  13. 13

    For Shaney to stand out in the Labour Party, as a future leader, shows just how low the party has sunk to. Kris Fa’afoi as his deputy and new kid on the block, Tamati, as chief whip?

  14. Brian

    If the media were able to intrude into our mind, as well as our viewing/thinking choices,none of us could stand scrutiny. Shane is a man of wit, passion and vision. Surrounded by good people, who knows what he could achieve?

  15. I’m the sort of cynical person who needs to be inspired before saying “I’ll follow the leader.” The previous discussion has been quite lofty at times. I read, go to meetings, watch television to shore up support for a leader. Jones has continued to rehabilitate himself to the extent that his sins of the past can now be forgiven. I dont know how much contributers realise the growing power of the 15% Maori component in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The necessary requirement of a future leader will be one who is equally at home on the plush leather benches in Parliament, as well as the painted wooden benches in the maraes, formerly smoke-filled rooms of working people, deep- pile carpet of boardrooms, and sitting round the kitchen table of embattled family people struggling to get by, listening to all and ultimately synthesising the offering from all places. Answers must then be found for each group, I believe that Shane Jones is showing the patience and nimbleness of mind to convince his party that he has the skill to weld together a team that can supply answers to the many problems left behind by the current government.
    Further down the line, Jacinda Adern has similar qualities but she knows that it is not quite her time yet. In the mean time I believe the Labour Party is more united than most people think and these two potential leaders realise the importance of getting in behind the current leader.

  16. Could this man be the last Labour Party Prime Minister of New Zealand?

    Might be a better question.

    With elevation of Shane Jones to PM, women will abandon Labour.

    With the elevation of Shane Jones to PM, environmentalists will abandon Labour.

    With the elevation of Shane Jones to PM, unionists will abandon Labour.

    That leaves Waitakere Man and the big corporate backers, could that be enough to sustain Labour in the long term?

    I doubt it.

    • You may be right in your 3 assertions, Jenny. But I’d like a brief reason for each of them, if you have the time.

      • First off, I left out one other sector of Shane Jones support, Iwi elite.

        But to recap my statement above; Jones gets support from Waitakere man as defined by Chris Trotter.

        Jones has the support of the mine drill it frack it fraternity, actively baiting the Greens at every opportunity;

        Jones is a big supporter of the Talleys family who attacked the unionised workforce of Sealord fisheries and locked out the unionised largely Maori Afco meatworkers to smash their union.

        In both the 2008 and 2011 elections Mr Jones declared just under $30,000 in donations, including $10,000 from Sealord in 2011 and $10,000 from Peter Talley in 2008, which Mr Jones said was due to their common Dalmatian ancestry.

        And rather than point to polls that show how unpopular Shane Jones is with women voters I just thought I would quote one of my favourite pundits.

        Here’s Jones on his Dalmatian forefathers: ‘I tell you what, a lot of them were fairly lusty individuals, because they didn’t always marry those Maori wahines they applied their biological gum-spears to.’ (Penis reference. Espiner laughs.)

        Jones again, following his call to David Cunliffe: ‘What the hell is a soft piece. Doing things in a soft fashion has never really been a failing of mine’ (Penis reference presumably boasting his ability to sustain an erection. Espiner finds this very funny.)

        And here’s Jones, in a speech referring to what he intended to do to John Key: ‘I’m going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot and then I’m going to get those callipers and cut them, and then the mercenary of capitalism can suffer what he deserves – a dead cat bounce.” (Reference to castrating John Key)

        And Jones on Labour’s proposed ‘man ban’: ‘… the overwhelming response [in his electorate] is the public doesn’t want the country run by geldings.’ (Reference to women as castrated male horses.)

        Try putting each of these statements, the very tip of the Jones personality iceberg, in the context of ‘Shane Jones, Leader of the Opposition’ or ‘Shane Jones, Prime Minister of New Zealand’. It does not compute!

        As Fran O’Sullivan so astutely observed in her Weekend Herald column this morning: ‘Why doesn’t earthy Shane Jones just come out and say, “I’m not just another Labour soft cock?”’

        Brian Shane Jones may well be able to collect votes for Labour (even a large vote), but none of the sectors from which Shane Jones gets his support are the basis for a the continuation of Labour as a sustainable mass membership party. Further any administration led by Shane Jones would be always loosely bound collection of individuals with no common political bond, and only just one scandal or mistake away from tearing into each other. A spectacle which would see Labour support collapse. Without a mass base of party organsisers and activists that collapse may well possibly be terminal and irreversible.

        • Some good points Jenny, Shane Jones may have his part to play but David Cunliffe is Labour leader and according to the eminent political analyst Colin James, at his best Cunliffe can beat Key and this is why a sustained attack on ‘every level’ has been occurring against Cunliffe.

          It is interesting that Colin James also cites the loose talk from a certain Labour leadership loser for Cunliffes poll woes and that loose talk costs political lives.

          • The problem being that Cunliffe currently (all of this year) appears to be rarely at his best, and his party PR seems to be rarely at it’s best.

            At my best I’ve beaten Key but I am no way suitable as a Prime Minister (and neither is that job suitable for me).

        • Very well said, Jenny and who can deny your perception in choice of pundits. Maybe it’s just that as a lover of the English language, I long for leaders who can inspire with oratory. In New Zealand’s political history they are few and far between. Among Prime Ministers in my time in New Zealand, only Kirk and Lange stand out. There was nothing flowery about Kirk, but there was a powerful intensity when he spoke. Kirk was a visionary and he conveyed that vision. Lange was a different cup of tea. He made a wonderful noise, but when you read his speeches afterwards, you were tempted to paraphrase Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not meaning, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Lange’s individual phrases sounded wonderful, his sentences were crafted and his delivery brilliant. But journalists will tell you, and I can confirm after interviewing him for my book on Clark, that it was nigh impossible to find a coherent paragraph to quote afterwards. As for our current Prime Minister…

  17. The other question to be addressed is whether SJ may yet jump ship to NZF. He would be a natural successor to Peters and would undoubtedly lift the NZF vote substantially.

  18. that speech by Shane Jones was fantastic!!

  19. What I look for in politicians is integrity. Every day, politicians are voting on matters that concern me, and the only control I have over that is voting for people who I think will consider their votes carefully, and according to the policies they have espoused. Unfortunately the combination of integrity and great oratory doesn’t always occur in the same person.

    Helen Clark was a person of integrity. It was hard to see any charisma in her until she became Prime Minister, because she doesn’t come across as a warm person on TV, and being in opposition made that worse. But she was consistent and it became apparent that she had strongly held convictions that didn’t falter, and that she cared about those who needed support.

    David Shearer had integrity but faltered on TV, and the media decided to exaggerate that. Goff was similar. I don’t think Cunliffe has much integrity and while he is a better speaker than Shearer, the media are pouncing on every mistake and he is awkward enough to keep them busy. The priority now does not seem to be to stick to Labour policy. It seems to be to play a game of point-scoring and popularity contests. That is Key’s strength, so they should be playing to what was Labour’s strength – celebrating diversity, caring for the underprivileged – having a bit more heart than National.

    After many years of voting Labour, I am considering going Green this year. If Shane Jones was leader, I wouldn’t have to think about it. Even his ‘apology’ showed that he is misogynist. I am tired of dinosaurs and want politicians who can cope with a diverse world – not just a bunch of middle-class males.

    • Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with middle-class males. I know quite a few nice ones. None are politicians though… ;)

  20. Shane Jones may one day be leader of the Labour Party but he will never be Prime Minister because with every election another three years have passed and a greater percentage of people get freaked about global warming and other monstrosities and transfer their votes to the Greens. The Green Party will increase its number of MPs and will become automatically a part of any non-National led government. Jones has been linked to both the National Party and mining.

    “Mr Jones revealed to the Herald that Sir Wira gave $1000 and NZ Oil and Gas board member Rodger Finlay also donated money to help the MP to pay for his campaign to win the Labour leadership last September.”

    I think what Chris Trotter has to say on the subject of the Green Party is salient –


    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, way to call it, Brian! Please tell me next that Cunliffe will be Governer General!

  22. Haere rā Shane Jones………………….

    • Well, Kat your chances in 2014 are well and truly stuffed and if Jones heads for NZF you can wave goodbye to the 2017 election as well.

      • Agree Ben, the ten-percenters of the stupid mindless greedy middle class will once again decide the 2014 election.

        • But! only if National pull a rabbit or three out of the hat.

          My coffee money is still on a Labour led govt in 2014.


            I thought you had lost your Mojo, Kat, after the first comment but I genuinely pleased to see your optimism restored. I still think that with the absurd voting system we have Cunliffe might sneak in but I suspect it might be an uncomfortable coalition for him.

  23. Wow!

    A week IS a long time in politics.

  24. Thank goodness we will be spared the possibility of often having to listen to his sententious babble, should he have ever become the PM. Could never have seen it myself.

    • Agree. Used pretentious words in a context that showed he had no understanding of the word’s true meaning, as in “apocryphal”.

      Just a strutting peacock who finally realised his plumage was good for attracting derision rather than attention and admiration, he so badly craved.

  25. In the light of today’s events I predict that Brian’s prediction will come to pass in 2017 or shortly after except that SJ will be leader of New Zealand First, which will take a large number of votes from Labour and will form the official opposition.

  26. Your predictive abilities are extraordinary Brian.
    Key to retire in 2013.
    Cunliffe to be a roaring success.
    Jones for PM.

    Who are you picking for the September election ?

  27. We haven’t heard the last of Shane Jones, the next time we see Jonesy will be on TV addressing the conference of the SIDS (Small Island Drowning States) in Apia in September, telling them of the importance of ecosphere destruction to the economy.

    Where else were National gonna get a Right Wing Polynesian politician allied with the fishing companies intent on raping the pacific, and the fossil fuel companies intent on drowning the coral atoll nations? Not within their own overwhelmingly pallid ranks, that’s for sure.

    “Samoa is honoured to host in September 2014 the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. As a United Nations conference the 193 UN member countries as well as observer organisations are anticipated to attend.

    As part of preparations for the conference a high level delegation from the United Nations arrived in Samoa in April this year for discussions on logistical arrangements for the conference.

    “Samoa has selected as the overarching theme of the conference the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships.

    The Theme highlights the high regard Samoa has for the critical role, the contribution and strength of its partnerships with other governments, institutions and major groups in progressing its sustainable economic development agenda.

    The success of these partnerships are demonstrated with Samoa’s graduation from the list of LDCs, as well as support for efforts in areas such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, renewable energy, resilience to natural disasters, disaster risk reduction, sustainable management of our oceans and forests and many others.”

    Meanwhile back in New Zealand in the National government cabinet.

    Holy crap! What are we gonna do?

    We don’t want what happened at Majuro.

    We don’t want any more talk of this sustainability BS. We have a hard enough time of countering it here, we don’t want it spreading through the Pacific.

    Right, who is the best man we can get up there?

    Someone who hates the whole idea of sustainability with a passion.
    Someone who can identify with the locals and could even pass as one of them.
    Someone who is a skilled orator, and fluent in at least one of the main Pacific Languages.
    Someone who hates any talk of climate change, and is a big supporter of mine it, drill it, frack it, burn it.

    How about Hekia Parata?

    No, we need someone more aggressive, more macho, someone who can cut it, someone quick with a quip, and the smart come back.

    Well how about Shane Jones?

    But he works for the other team.

    I know, but if we create a special role just for him and offer him a truck load of money we might have a deal.

    Ok then, but I want it done by the end of the week.

    OK boss.

    • Kelvin Davis comes riding in on his brown horse accompanied by the theme from the Dam Busters and the horse drops a pile right on Hone’s doorstep.

      Key secures the govt funding for W/BROS to film a new blockbuster, to premier before September 20th 2014, on the NZ Maori wars and how tribal warfare is alive and flourishing in the Far North and the threat to ordinary hard working Kiwi farmers trying to make a living off the land with cows and milk exports to China and bugger the dead fish in the polluted streams and waterways.

      Meanwhile in an overly undercovered media storm Dot Com is discovered using toilet paper embossed with a picture of Don Brash and the words ‘help wipe out hate’.

      Key says he is comfortable playing golf with anyone interested in making a donation.

  28. The Kiss of Death – Anointing the First Maori Prime Minister of New Zealand
    First John Tamihere, then….

    Could someone predict Hekia Parata as First woman Maori PM?
    Seems to be the only sure fire way of removing her.

  29. 29

    Alastair Carthew

    This is the first time I have seen Jones as I have lived away from NZL for 14 years. He was impressive. Can see why Labour did not want to lose him.Cunning Murray McCully. Still at it hatching Machiavellian plans.