Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Thoughts on Tamihere's terrible tirade

John Tamihere is in trouble once again for shooting his mouth off, this time in an interview with Ian Wishart of 'Investigate' magazine. In a sheer act of political hari-kari Tamihere lays into the Prime Minister, calls one cabinet minister a "tosser", and another "smarmy".

Tamihere's excuse that he thought the interview was off the record simply does not have any credibility. Especially when the journalist reports "I put the tape recorder down on the table and away we went". I find it very hard to believe an experienced MP and former cabinet minister would talk to a journalist in this way, unless it was part of a deliberate political strategy.

My guess? While he intended to undermine a few select colleagues, once he got going he just got carried away.

In the interview, Tamihere claims 10 MPs out of the Labour caucus of 51 back him "to the hilt". This gives a pretty good indication of the size of the right wing 'backbone club' within the Labour party. When John Tamihere resigned from cabinet in November, I predicted George Hawkins was likely to lose his place in cabinet in Clark's Christmas reshuffle. Ok, I might have been a little premature, but only by a few months. Apparently Tamihere and other members of the backbone club kicked up a stink when rumors started to fly that Clark was about to drop him. With Tamihere gone, Clark has been more able to act.

Tamihere's outburst appears to be partly motivated by the recently announced party list, suggesting he is rankled by the rankings given to his mates.
"When you look at the (party) list, the union movement have got four new members coming in, end of story... They don't deserve to have that level of influence. I'm going to lead a charge against that, very shortly.."
It may be significant that Tamihere chose to talk to a journalist who he thought might be sympathetic to his views. In January Xavier of About Town wrote a good piece on the conversion of Ian Wishart from a respected investigative journalist to a dogmatic Christian fundamentalist who no longer lets truth get in the way, especially if helps a story preach moral conservatism. Given that an article titled 'Helen's a Dyke' appeared in Wishart's 'Investigate' magazine it is possible that it was Wishart who drew out Tamihere's offensive paranoia about butch lesbians and the "wimmim's" division of the Labour party.

Ironically, JT's upfront moral conservatism places him closer to the views of a centrist, morally conservative Maori Party. Had he not been so quick to bag them so publicly, he could have hinted to Helen he was considering jumping waka, thereby creating a combination that would have done the most damage to Labour. Instead, he now desperately attempts a similar trick by promoting the future of the National party, a stance highly unlikely to help his re-election chances in a Maori electorate.

Come the election, could we see Labour leftists supporting Pita Sharples* in Tamaki Makaurau, in a campaign reminiscent of the successful attempt to oust Richard Prebble from Auckland Central in 1993? Perhaps that comparison is a little harsh, but you get the point. Roger Douglas appointed Hawkins to be his successor after all....

* From what I have heard from Pita he seems decidely less keen on a coalition with National than other Maori party candidates, and from what I can make out seems to be more of a lefty.

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