Andrew Little is right: the threat by retiring MP George Hawkins' to quit Parliament if the Engineers' Union organiser was picked to replace shows the sense of entitlement that some MPs develop.

I'd go further and say it was a disgraceful abuse of the process. No one will know how many people in Sunday's marathon selection in Manurewa favoured Louisa Wall over the Engineers' candidate because of Hawkins' blackmail to quit if Jerome Mika won.

But unfortunately for Little, the moral high ground has just collapsed under him with his extraordinary admission this morning that the ultimate aim had been to get rid of Hawkins.

"The key objective had been to remove George Hawkins and we achieved that objective," he is reported in the Dominion Post.

He also called him a lightweight, which is as much an insult to the local members who put him there year after year. It's one thing to think it - it's another to say it.

The party deserves to feel as outraged by Little's statement as Hawkins' antics.

The Labour caucus this morning could have expected an explanation if not an apology from Little if he were at the caucus.

Pike River responsibilities have kept him away.

Leader Phil Goff has just gone into caucus and he was as terse as he has ever been in answering reporters' questions about the infighting.

Little has told him he regrets the statement. I guess it might be hard to apologise because no doubt he really means it - he just didn't mean to say it.

The Engineers' Union have a rightful sense of grievance in the Labour Party - their members contribute in time and money to the party more than any other union and yet representation from their ranks has been pitiful.

The Service Workers Unions and teachers unions have dominated Labour's benches. The only time the Engineers Union have tried in the past, with Maurice Davis in Hauraki, Helen Clark intervened to get John Tamihere selected instead.

The re-emergence of factional fighting is Goff's worst nightmare. It kept Labour out of office for nine years and then Helen Clark kept a tight lid on it for another nine years.

Goff is portraying the Little-Hawkins clash as a personality clash rather than a power struggle within the party to limit the power of the unions.

Whatever take you put on it, Labour goes into the summer break in a worse place than when it started the year.