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Tamihere back in Labour Party

Saturday 1 Dec 2012 5:54 p.m.

He was kicked out by Helen Clark in 2005 for using terms such as "front bums", "queer", "smarmy" and "tosser" to describe his Labour Party colleagues.

Now Labour has approved former cabinet minister John Tamihere's party membership, opening the door for him to run as a candidate in the 2014 election.

With his new membership comes new responsibilities. Mr Tamihere is expected to toe the Labour Party line, and many will be lying in wait for a stumble.

“People might see me as a pussy cat and others might see me as a lion, so it depends where you’re sitting on your particular issues as to how you judge someone or categorise them,” says Mr Tamihere.

He once judged and categorised his women colleagues as "front bums", his gay colleagues as "queer", and the rest were lucky if they avoided "smarmy" or "tosser".

That was Labour in 2005 and, according to JT, it's Labour today too.

“They're everywhere,” he says.

Because of comments like that, his membership bid had to be considered by Labour's council.

The council won't say how many people complained about Mr Tamihere. But he doesn't care. He won't tie his tongue.

“If you want a statesman-like gentleman, that's not going to happen,” he says.

And approving Mr Tamihere helps Labour look more accepting.

“We've talked a lot recently about the need to be a party in unity and needing to move on together,” says party president Moira Coatsworth.

But a complaint received by the council today won't help. Labour's leadership woes are still hanging around, after a complaint about party junior Chris Hipkins over comments he made about David Cunliffe, saying, “Clearly he's been willing to undermine the current leader, just as he undermined the last leader.”

So Mr Tamihere's not ruling out running in 2014. He's cleared this hurdle, but becoming a candidate will be much tougher. His critics will become far more visible and vocal.

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