What John Tamihere’s Return Means

The decision by Labour’s ruling council to allow John Tamihere to rejoin the party should be interpreted as one of the following:

  1. recognition by the party’s leadership that the reign of terror within the party led by the gays and frontbums is at an end;
  2. a sensible decision, because there are plenty of people within Labour who don’t agree with everything the party does, so why should a special case be made for excluding one person? and it may have been better for the party had Tamihere’s membership application just been accepted at the very beginning; and he may be a social conservative with strongly held views that probably conflict with those of many, if not most, Labour members, but he would not be alone in the party in that regard; and for all his flaws, Tamihere has been a successful and powerful advocate for Maori, and has devoted most of his adult life to helping Maori families in West Auckland, and we should not dismiss that contribution or his skills so readily; and if the party hierarchy had said “no thanks” that decision would then be used by the right as evidence that Labour is out of touch and overly obsessed with identity politics, and regardless of the merits of this last point that’s how it would have been framed by Labour’s opponents; and if Tamihere really wants to be an MP again he will have a long way to go, and he will have to work hard to rebuild the trust of those groups he has routinely dissed; and while Tamihere is based in the Te Atatu electorate it seems that the electorate he is really interested in is Waitakere, where Paula Bennett is the MP, and if he is really determined to oust Bennett he should get behind Carmel Sepuloni, who almost unseated Bennett in 2011; but if Tamihere thinks he will be able to win the Waitakere selection for 2014 ahead of Sepuloni he may be fooling himself, although he might potentially flood the Waikarere LEC with new members loyal to him, but even then he would probably not win selection unless he had the backing of the party’s leadership, and my guess is that the party really doesn’t want to start nuclear war out west by standing a highly controversial candidate in place of someone who is well regarded and popular among the party faithful; and another thing to make clear, since the writer is a member of Labour’s Te Atatu LEC, and since the Te Atatu LEC were consulted on whether Tamihere should be allowed to rejoin the party, is that the decision by the Te Atatu LEC not to oppose Tamihere’s application should not be construed in any way as an endorsement of either Tamihere’s views or any potential bid by Tamihere for power; and then there’s that saying about tents and pissing, although I suspect a few people within Labour might get a bit wet even with Tamihere as a member; or
  3. the End of Days.

I obviously don’t have a particular view on the matter.