By 3 News online staff
Former Labour MP John Tamihere says the party’s ‘ban’ on him being a member is bemusing and doesn’t make sense.
- Watch the video for John Tamihere's full interview with 3 News Political Reporter Patrick Gower.
He applied for membership online last month, but today was told by the party’s gatekeepers that it hadn’t yet been approved. This means Mr Tamihere will not be able to attend Labour’s annual conference in Auckland this weekend.
Mr Tamihere has been told things would get "testy" if he turns up, but he says he’s being blocked by internal forces.
“There’s a group in there that need a wake-up call and I might be giving them their dose of salts,” he says.
“No one wants you back if you are deemed to be a threat so what you've got to do is water your threats down and kill them off - that's politics.”
Mr Tamihere is critical of the party’s current direction, saying it is too focussed on what he calls identity politics. He’s keen to make a come back.
“The party really needs to start talking about economic policy and jobs and housing but that debate seems to get lost over gender politics or sex-based politics,” says Mr Tamihere.
He left Parliament in 2005 after a Serious Fraud Office investigation and after losing his Tamaki-Makaurau seat.
Labour’s fixation on gay marriage has “crowded out” some very important discussions, he says, adding that the party needs to discuss ways to stop New Zealand being a “training incubator” for Australia.
Mr Tamihere says despite working for David Cunliffe for six years and praising his work ethic, he still backs Mr Shearer as Labour’s leader.
“If you want a fire brand, that’s not David Shearer. They knowingly chose a chap that everyone rates as a decent man. But a decent man needs to be supported by decent colleagues.
“One man doesn’t make a party but one man leading a very good team does,” he says.