Hooton makes mischief

On the lighter side of political news today, Matthew Hooton wrote a column in the National Business Review which floated the possibility that Shane Jones might jump ship from Labour to NZ First. Hooton saw Mr Jones’ recent erratic behaviour as being a pretext to either leave Labour or get himself kicked out. The cunning plan, according to Hooton, ran thusly:

“Shane Jones has got to look to the future. He doesn’t like the Labour Party, the Labour Party doesn’t like him. But there’s a fantastic opportunity for him to become a New Zealand First MP and barnstorm the nation with Winston Peters.”

The plan would then be for Winston Peters to hand the NZ First leadership to Jones, ensuring an ongoing dynasty.

Now Hooton has obviously been interviewing his keyboard, given that just days ago he seemed to be trying to spread rumours that Jones was trying to drum up support for a coup against David Cunliffe. However, the reaction to the story was hilarious.

Firstly, Mr Jones had to deny the rumours on TVNZ’s Breakfast show, with Jones stating, “It’ll be a long day in hell before I ever take my political advice from Matthew”.

This then led to the NZ Herald running with the online headline, ‘Shane Jones denies claims he’s defecting to NZ First’. “Claims”? It was a hypothetical scenario posited by a political commentator. It wasn’t a “claim”. Nonetheless, one should never let the facts get in the way of a good headline…

Then, on Radio New Zealand’s Panel, things got even more ridiculous, with panellist Susan Hornsby-Geluk (a well-known employment lawyer) indignantly declaring that Mr Jones could leave Labour if he liked, but:

“it would be disappointing if he were embarking on a deliberate strategy to goad Cunliffe into chucking him out of the party and in the meantime ruining the Labour party, so I would say, if he wants to do it, do it, but there’s another question here as to, you know, if he does get chucked out of the party under those circumstances, are people actually going to trust him, his judgement and the way he’s gone about it, so in some ways I agree with Neville [Gibson, her fellow panellist] that it does make sense, but I think he would be better off being more open about his reasons rather than goading Cunliffe into chucking him out…”

This was after Neville Gibson, editor-in-chief of the NBR, had just noted that it was Mr Hooton’s role as a columnist to be provocative, and Mr Gibson had no idea whether there was any truth whatsoever to Hooten’s scenario…

Perhaps the final observation should be to refer back to Mr Jones’ Breakfast interview. “[Hooten’s] whole agenda is to create divisiveness and mischief on our side of politics.” Mission accomplished, me thinks! Well played, Mr Hooton.

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