Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Opinion: Shane Jones and New Zealand First, could it happen?

Former Labour MP Shane Jones is heavily tipped to leave the diplomatic corps and stand for Winston Peters' New Zealand First against a National MP in Whangarei. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Former Labour MP Shane Jones is heavily tipped to leave the diplomatic corps and stand for Winston Peters' New Zealand First against a National MP in Whangarei. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Shane Jones created a lot of buzz at the New Zealand First conference over the weekend, despite not being in attendance.

The former Labour MP is heavily tipped to leave the diplomatic corps and stand for NZ First against a National MP in Whangarei.

His name was put to Winston Peters' media stand-ups.

Peters didn't seem annoyed. In fact, he named Whangarei as a seat they would likely target next year.

The real interest in a return for Jones is the possibility he could eventually take over as leader.

Deputy leader Ron Mark started his own speech by talking about succession.

He said he thinks about what would happen if he died in a car crash during one of many trips over the Rimutakas: "I'm always talking to the caucus - one of you has to be prepared to step into my shoes."

The former military man had the crowd laughing and booing at his references to National and Labour, urging the grey-haired delegates to think of themselves as soldiers on the frontline.

But there was also a strange tangent, when Mark said Labour's recent criticism of Corrections came after it sought to cover-up the behaviour of a rogue prison guard "goon squad" when in government.

"Goon squad leaders were making their squad members put their penis on the bar so they could hit it with a beer bottle and show them how tough they are," Mark told the hall.

"That actually happened."

Even for a speech to fire up party delegates it was a bit much detail. And helps explain the speculation swirling around Jones.

- NZ Herald

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Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Nicholas Jones is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald. He began at the Herald in 2011 after studying journalism at Auckland University of Technology. He has previously been a general and consumer affairs reporter at the Herald, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Auckland. He was previously the Herald's Education Reporter

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