Both Nationals and Labour should be able to claim a victory of sorts after former Porirua Mayor and Labour Party member Nick Leggett announced his decision to try and seek National’s nomination for Mana.
For National, any defection from Labour has high propaganda value.
And for Labour, the loss of Legget, a right wing thorn in the caucus’s side, vindicates Andrew Little’s attack on him as a right winger when he stood unsuccessfully for the Wellington Mayoralty.
The question now is whether anybody else will follow him.
He doesn’t seem to think anyone will.
“I think actually a lot of people have just melted away from Labour and I suspect there are very few people left like me,” he told POLITIK.
Leggett formed a close relationship with Labour’s Mana MP, Kris Faafoi.
“Kris and I get on well,” he said.
“We worked together well as mayor and MP.
“But those who are in the Labour caucus and if they see a problem and haven’t spoken up – well, so be it.”
Leggett appears to have been inspired to make his move in part by the rise of Trump and the Brexit phenomenon.
“This world is in a delicate position at the moment, and if you look at John Key’s leadership, New Zealand is confident and knows its identity and is open to trading as well las playing our part in the world.”
Specifically, he says he rejected Labour because of its stance on the TPP, its opposition to the troops being sent as trainers to Iraq and its campaign against people with Chinese names buying houses in Auckland.
But Leggett still clings to some ideas which many National Party members would consider doctrinaire Labour such as his Wellington Mayoral campaign promise to pay all Council employees a living wage.
“The National Party is a broader church than Labour and one that is tolerant of different views but is also in touch with the aspirations of hardworking Kiwis.”
There are probably some members of National’s caucus who might consider that comment optimistic, possibly overly so.
But Leggett’s big problem will be getting a high enough position on National’s list.
Already Key’s former aid, Nicola Willis, is seeking nomination for Wellington Central but unlikely to win the seat and Attorney General Chris Finlayson is a Wellington based list MP as are Brett Hudson and Paul Foster-Bell.
Willis is going up against Foster-Bell for the Wellington Central nomination and likely to succeed with suggestions that Foster-Bell may make a statement concerning his future over the weekend.