Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross presents that party with a dilemma that is rather larger than its own political interests. Ross has announced he wants to return to Parliament this year and his psychiatrist has written to the Speaker, Trevor Mallard, attesting that Ross is fit to return to work.
In his announcement Ross said he was returning without bitterness towards the leaders of his former party and invoked the example of Nelson Mandela. He said, "I am reminded at this time of a famous Mandela quote from his time leaving prison on Robben Island: 'As I walked out the door to the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.'
"I am still the same person that has been proud to work hard for Howick and Botany....," Ross continued, "But I can admit last year, I didn't get everything right. I'm sorry, I will do better."
Ross was expelled from the National Party three months ago after surreptitiously recording its leader, Simon Bridges, in a conversation Ross had clearly set up with the intention to use against him, which he did, releasing them publicly. By comparison with the actions of disaffected MPs over the years this was fairly extreme, probably unprecedented.
Deputy leader Paula Bennett then made it known Ross' behaviour towards women had been the subject of complaints from several in the party. It became easier to understand why they had pursued an inquiry into a rather trivial leak of Bridges' travel expenses.
The resulting public debate ceased abruptly when Ross suffered a mental emergency and was taken to Middlemore Hospital for psychiatric assessment.
Ross now has a bill of health to return to Parliament but it remains difficult to criticise him for fear of his vulnerability. He has confirmed that "in those dark moments" in October he began "thinking I had no option but to end everyone's pain...." National Party leaders need to examine his statements this week carefully for confidence in his recovery.
It seems unlikely he will be readmitted to the National caucus but the party holds his future as an MP in its hands under the "waka jumping" law passed last year.
Having opposed that legislation, National would be reluctant to use it and probably has little to fear from Ross if he remains in the House as an independent. Poll results suggest National voters have reached their own conclusions about him.
But the party needs to consider larger questions, not least the interests of Ross' electorate but also those of Ross himself. Parliamentary politics is inevitably adversarial. It is one thing to hope it might be made less so but another thing to expose someone to it whose condition has been delicate.
If Ross returns he is likely to be treated very carefully by all MPs and most commentators. Whatever he says or does may be effectively immune to criticism. It needs to be asked whether this is fair to others and makes him an effective participant in Parliament. Wiser counsel needs to prevail.