Alf is always fascinated by political reports built on a mix of firm quotes and vague tip-offs and understandings.
A splendid example pops up in the Herald today.
Shane Jones (pictured here) is tipped to be handed the Opposition Maori Affairs portfolio and placed on the frontbench as Labour prepares its lineup for the election.
Tipped? By who?
A big fat clue.
In another report today, Labour leader Phil Goff is asked (a) about a reshuffle of responsibilities and (b) about Shane Jones.
Is there potential for Shane Jones to come back?
Alf didn’t know Jones had left, actually. Wonder where he went.
But the important thing is that both reports appear under the by-line of Claire Trevett, one of the Herald’s press gallery hacks.
She refers to Jones as a “disgraced” Labour MP, the adjective that is trundled out to describe increasing numbers of pollies who have been embarrassed by this, that or some other disclosure (a predisposition to porn, in Jones’ case).
But hey – the Herald now says he
… is set to be returned to glory by party leader Phil Goff in a reshuffle early this year.
He is tipped to be handed the Maori Affairs portfolio and placed on the frontbench as Labour prepares its lineup for the election.
Returned to glory?
What’s so bloody glorious about sitting on the front bench of a party that seems destined to remain in opposition for several years?
Claire Trevett would be advised to get a life and find out what glory is all about.
She reprises that stuff about Jones being stripped of his shadow portfolios and demoted as punishment for using his ministerial credit card while in government for personal purchases, including porn movies at hotels, the costs of which he later repaid.
Although applauded for his repentance, Mr Jones has remained on the backbenches since.
But Mr Goff, when asked if the country could expect to see the return of Mr Jones in the planned New Year reshuffle, said: “Absolutely.”
He indicated changes would be made to the frontbench. Mr Jones is expected to benefit from those, as is first-term MP Grant Robertson.
Other first-termers understood to have impressed the Labour leader are Jacinda Ardern, Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash.
When he “indicated” that changes would be made to the frontbench, how exactly did he do his indicating?
Did he baldly say so, or did he simply do his indicating with hints? And if they were hints, what were they?
And what led to Claire saying she “understood” who impressed Goff?
Alf relishes dissecting this sort of mish-mash of fact (what Goff reportedly said in his interview with Trevett) and conjecture (the stuff in the story on Jones’ future about tips and understandings of who will finish up in what jobs).
Is Claire just making it up?
Has she built her story on information gleaned from heaps of sources over several months?
Or does she have a very well-informed source whose identity she is struggling to hide even though her interview with him is also to be found in the Herald?
It seem we must rule out the most obvious candidate as a source.
Mr Goff would not be drawn on which individuals would be promoted but said he would base his decisions on the progress MPs had made in getting new policy together and holding the government to account. “And I’ll be looking for the best people for the job who have the energy, enthusiasm and commitment and the ability to do it.”
Nah. Goff remains the most likely source in Alf’s book.
Oh, and when Goff says he is looking for the best people, he means the best of a bloody bad bunch, because the best are to be found on National’s side of the political divide.