Shane Jones 'unlikely' to go for deputy leader of NZ First

Shane Jones, deputy leader or quite happy staying place?
Shane Jones, deputy leader or quite happy staying place? Photo credit: Getty

Next Tuesday, New Zealand First could have a new deputy leader. The nine-member caucus will vote on whether current deputy Ron Mark keeps his job.

All eyes will be on Shane Jones, who previously contested the Labour Party leadership, losing to David Cunliffe in 2013.

Mr Jones is known for his habit of sitting back while ruffling feathers and, when he wants to, delivering speeches peppered with poetic imagery. 

He combined the two before Christmas with a reference to "nephs" he wanted to get off the couch with a work-for-the-dole programme, giving the new Government a shot of pre-break adrenaline. 

He later explained the "nephs" were a literary device, not actually his own nephews.

When stopped on the tiles, en route to Question Time in the House of Parliament today, Mr Jones all but said he's not in the running.

"I'm unlikely to proceed in that direction," he said. "I'm very happy with what I'm doing."

But does he mean it?

One of Winston Peters' most-used phrases during the election was "words do mean things". It almost became an unofficial tag-line.

One assumes Mr Peters means 'mean' to mean 'convey' or 'signify', as opposed to 'mean's other meaning, 'unkind'. 

If 'words do mean things' in New Zealand First, Mr Jones is not running for deputy leadership.

If words on leadership mean about the same as they mean in the rest of politics, Mr Jones could well be running for deputy leadership.

If he gets the job, it will just look like he reluctantly took it on at caucus' bequest. It wouldn't be the first time a politician denied leadership ambitions.

As for the rest of NZ First's caucus, Mr Peters said he couldn't have an opinion on the deputy leadership "and never will", and Tracey Martin and Fletcher Tabuteau had no comment.

Jenny Marcroft didn't rule herself in or out of the contest.

"We are literally dripping with talent in New Zealand First," she said. 

"Whoever is chosen will make a great deputy leader."