- Supports asset sales
- Supports charter schools
- Opposes marriage equality
- Has attacked welfarism and advocated for the privatisation of welfare delivery
First of all, let me be clear about a few things; I like John Tamihere, I think he's an outstanding communicator, a strong advocate for urban Maori and I’d welcome his return. However, he’s a poor fit for Labour 2012. Tamihere’s economic liberalism and social conservatism will sit awkwardly with Labour MPs and members. I struggle to see how Tamihere can reconcile his values and beliefs with Labour values and policies. As one example, in 2010 Tamihere rejected class politics writing that:
The large number of so-called working class people have now migrated to the middle class. As a consequence, describing your politics in a class way is no longer sustainable.
Well, this may have held true under Clinton’s America, Blair and Brown’s Britain and Clark’s New Zealand, but following the global economic downturn the left is tilting back towards class politics. Barack Obama, and to a greater extent Ed Miliband, are staking their re-election on class politics. Obama’s strategy in, for example, Ohio is aimed squarely at winning “blue collar workers” (what we call the working class). Miliband’s strategy is aimed at amplifying class tensions and painting the Conservatives as governing for their own class. If the economic situation in New Zealand worsens, the safe bet is that Labour will follow suit and pivot towards the working class. This would further marginalise Tamihere. However, as an identity politician Tamihere can find common ground with some of his colleagues. He sits well with Labour on Treaty and Maori issues. Having said that, that’s where it ends.
In any event, it’s all academic. Even if Tamihere were a lefty liberal Carmel Sepuloni has the Waitakere branch stitched up, Nanaia Mahuta has rejected his return (and I’m not surprised why) and David Shearer appears lukewarm. If Tamihere cannot win the support of Labour’s West Auckland branches he will need to win the support of the Maori caucus and David Shearer to ensure he receives a winnable list position. Unlikely.
Another route to return for Tamihere is Tamaki Makaurau. But, again, that’s a poor fit. Not because he won’t or can’t win, but because Willie Jackson will want that seat if he decides to stand. However, if Auckland becomes two separate Maori electorates then both could stand; Tamihere in the electorate that incorporates West Auckland and Jackson in the electorate that incorporates South Auckland. What, you ask, happens if West and South Auckland form part of the same electorate? Well, then one of either Tamihere or Jackson would have to stand down or it’s back to aiming for Waitakere or a list position. Whatever way you look at it, Tamihere’s route to return will be very, very rough.
UPDATE: Tamihere gave an excellent interview this morning. He rejected "Rogernomics", read neoliberlism, and spoke of a need to "regrow activism" and change New Zealand's macro economic settings. A clear tilt to the left and an attempt to reconcile his views with the views of the Labour Party.