Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Labour leader Andrew Little bans MPs from attending 'right-wingers' mayoral forum

Labour leader Andrew Little says he was justified in telling Napier MP Stuart Nash not to speak at a Wellington mayoral forum because the candidate, a former Labour Party member and Porirua mayor Nick Leggett, was a right-wing competitor to the Labour-endorsed candidate.

"It was an event involving a number of right-wingers who have routinely sought to undermine the Labour Party," Little told reporters today.

"It is not right for a Labour MP to be sharing a platform with people who do that.

"We are a political party, not a debating society."

Asked about calling Leggett a right-winger, Little said his campaign manager was a well-known Act Party identity.

"We know there is money from the right-wing that has gone into his campaign.

He is a right-wing candidate."

Leggett, who is currently mayor of Porirua, entered the Wellington mayoral contest as an independent on April 3 this year.

He said at the time that he had resigned from Labour because of its prohibition against standing in elections with endorsed candidates.

Justin Lester, the current deputy mayor of Wellington, was endorsed by Labour on November 28.

The event, held at a pub in Auckland, was attended by Labour MP David Shearer and former Labour Party activist Phil Quin who resigned after the party released housing data based on "Chinese-sounding surnames".

Former Labour leader David Shearer attended the "right-wing" event. Photo Dean Purcell NZH.
Former Labour leader David Shearer attended the "right-wing" event. Photo Dean Purcell NZH.

When it was pointed out to Little that Shearer had attended the same function, Little said:
"I'm saying it is not right for Labour MPs to be associated with events like that and with people who seek to undermine the Labour Party."

Quin said on Twitter that Little had obviously decided being a thin-skinned, name-calling bully is all the rage these days.

Shearer has declined to make any comment.

- NZ Herald

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