Shane Jones has recently been attacking policies and positions supported by his own party, and taking positions at odds with the majority of his caucus. He was at it again late last week.
Naturally, and understandably, Labour’s opponents have been happy to take advantage, and can you blame them? This tweet from Steven Joyce is fairly typical.
Most of the leading right-wing blogs have also covered the issue.
Regardless of whether or not Jones is right, his ongoing public espousal of positions inconsistent with Labour policy does harm to the credibility of his party’s leader. When an MP speaks on a political issue, it’s reasonable for people to assume that the MP is speaking on behalf of his or her party. That’s how party politics works. An MP who strays from the official party line invites speculation from commentators, bloggers and other pundits about what is going on within their party. That speculation is rarely helpful to the party.
That’s why MPs need to be careful what they say, and why they cannot expect to say just anything they like.
When Chris Carter openly plotted against Phil Goff he was booted out of the Labour Party.
Jones’ behaviour is probably just as damaging to his leader as Carter’s was to Phil Goff. Perhaps it is just as deliberate.
Goff was often criticised for being a weak leader, but he didn’t mess around when Carter went too far.
If Shane Jones can’t be bothered behaving like an actual Labour MP, he should be told to pack his bags. But will anyone have the courage to stand up to him?