Tracy Watkins reports:
Leggett was controversially slated by Labour leader Andrew Little during the Wellington mayoralty after he ran as an independent against Labour’s handpicked candidate, Justin Lester.
Leggett told Fairfax on Wednesday Labour had moved away from its loyal voting base and was no longer in touch with working Kiwis.
He will seek selection as National’s candidate in the Porirua seat of Mana, a Labour stronghold for years.
Labour is slowly getting rid of all the moderates. Shane Jones quit Labour as he no longer felt home there. Labour is now operates much the same spectrum as the Greens.
There are reports a deal with the Greens to stand aside in Nelson has fractured the local electorate, with as many as eight people said to have quit the party in protest.
Labour sources suggested to Fairfax there were more.
A Labour -Greens memorandum of understanding earlier this year opened the door to electorate deals and has caused deep disquiet within parts of the caucus and wider party.
Some see it as dragging Labour further to the left and opening the door to rivals NZ First in heartland New Zealand.
Three years ago in the TVNZ poll National was at 45% and Labour 34%. Today National is at 50% and Labour 28% as Labour continues its move to the left. But their support has not gone to the Greens who are 2% below where they were three years ago. The winner is Winston who has gone from 4% to 10%.
So Greens are losing support to Labour and Labour is losing support to National and NZ First. Great strategy.
Leggett had a high profile as Porirua mayor and has long links with the Labour party. He had been touted as a potential future leader previously.
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.
The deal with the Greens had finally convinced him the party was moving in a different direction to him.
As a social liberal, he now considered that National’s policies and values better reflected his own.
There’s quite a few issues where I disagree with Nick. He supports the living wage for local government etc. He is not in any sense of the word a right winger as Andrew Little calls him. But unlike Labour which seems to take joy in evicting people who are not ideologically pure, I think Nick would make a good contribution to a National caucus and Cabinet. You don’t have to agree with someone on every issue to want them on your team.