Jones for Whangarei is about more than winning a seat video

Winston Peters has finally revealed Shane Jones will be standing for
NZ First.
Maarten Holl

Winston Peters has finally revealed Shane Jones will be standing for NZ First.

OPINION: It was, on the face of it, an announcement about Shane Jones and his candidacy for New Zealand First in Whangarei.

And when Winston Peters stood up in the Pure Bar and Grill for the big unveil it would have been hard to find anyone who would have thought it was still news, so well had it been signalled.

Nevertheless, in true Peters' style - reminiscent of his announcement on whether he would back National or Labour back in 1996 - he held off actually saying the words "Shane Jones" until the end.

'The North needs a voice like me' - Shane Jones finally reveals he's running for election in Whangarei.

'The North needs a voice like me' - Shane Jones finally reveals he's running for election in Whangarei.

But the big media focus on the announcement was not just about its immediate newsworthiness - or the hard yards Jones has put into cultivating reporters over the years.

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Yet it was about much more than that.

It was also a recognition of the significance of the move for the party and the coming election.

National encumbent Shane Reti is likeable and despite blotting his copybook with voters concerned about the state of Northland's roads he has a 13,000 plus majority.

That is a huge mountain for Jones to scale if he is to conquer the National stronghold.

Of course it is not beyond the pale.

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But in any case the Jones Boy brings more than an outside chance of Peters picking up another seat and making the Far North an NZ First bailiwick.

He also brings links to both National through his role as Murray McCully's man in the Pacific, and his old links with Labour, which are still strong in some quarters at least.

And when it comes to the succession - well it is hard to believe Jones will not be in the mix for deputy leader or even leader the next time the issue rolls around, and if he sticks around.

He also offers pulling power for the provinces in general - one of Peters' main and overt targets this election - as well as appeal to some of the blue collar and Maori urban vote that Labour is still struggling to win back.

But with women - especially after his red face from the fall out over accessing blue movies as a minister - and in particularly young ones? Ah not so much.

Jones will no doubt help the party's image, which beyond Peters lacks the charisma factor. When it comes to presence and high-flown rhetorical flourishes they are like chalk and chalk.

However, not appealing more broadly to women is probably the biggest sea anchor slowing NZ First's push towards a very strong mid-teens result on September 23 - and on that score Jones adds little.
 

 

 - Stuff

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