In that Labour’s Nick Leggett’s decision to become ex-Labour – and worse, to join the Blue Team! – is so unimportant, it’s important.
It’s not so much a defection as a jump aboard one train as his former one was leaving him.
He said he grew up "with Labour burned deep into my DNA" and both sides of his family were supporters.
But the party's activists, staffers and MPs had become distant from the party's voting base.
"They take their heartland for granted and sadly fail to understand the ambitions and challenges of working New Zealanders,' Leggett said.
Leggett is hardly the Waitakere Man that Trotter reckons the party needs. He’s the type of handwringing centrist apparatchik that’s virtually interchangeable with every other of the type. But where those types now might have been happy to wring their hands on Labour’s benches, they’re now discovering that Labour is not their home. National is.
National is that home because under John Boy Key the former party of free enterprise has made itself so “centrist” that it’s now virtually Labour without the identity politics – and without the Green tail on the red dog. So for those to whom identity politics is a bust and the Greens are too much watermelon to handle – those working Waitakere Men and Women who were once happy to call themselves “True Labour” people – it’s a train to jump aboard for the journey. Soo too the apparatchiks, who no longer see anything in the Blue Team to scare them (which should scare us).
It’s not so much that the apparatchik has changed; it’s the parties that are changing under him.
No wonder that Labour’s Andrew Little was seething. He’s “not True Labour,” spewed Little. When there’s nothing but identity politics separating the two biggest parties, then party tribalism like that is all you have left to draw on.
Several elections ago True Labourites were casting around wondering what their party stand for in a modern world in which the Blue Team is happy to pinch all their policies. If they thought embracing identity politics and the Greens were recipes for success, the gentle attrition seen since tells them the answer is probably “no.”
That’s why Angry Andy was so angry about something so apparently not-so important. And this is why it probably was.
UPDATE: From this distance it now looks like John Tamihere’s rant against the “front bums,” Shane Jones against the xxx, and Damian O’Connor’s against the . Bookend those and many other less celebrated moments with Leggett’s departure and the like of today’s TVNZ report, and you begin to sense the trend:
Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson. It includes one supporter who held membership for 30 years and the campaign's coordinator is also understood to have walked away.
To lose one hardcore Labourite may be put down to misfortune. To carry on losing them looks much worse than just carelessness …