Labour Party membership concerned over Willie Jackson nomination

The Open Letter was posted to the Labour Members and Supporters Coalition Facebook page 

An Open Letter from Labour Party members is calling for the New Zealand Labour Party Council to reject Willie Jackson’s membership and to vote against his nomination.

The Letter posted on the Labour Members and Supporters Coalition Facebook page outlined some members, “collective dismay at recent news that Willie Jackson seeks a high list placing to re-enter Parliament as a Labour MP.”

Party Leader Andrew Little, told Te Kāea reporter Peata Melbourne today that they will look into the issue and will take it back to their membership first and address the concerns raised. 

This follows the announcement yesterday that Willie Jackson would stand for a position as a List MP in the general election.

Little told media at a press conference at Waitangi that his party wants to deepen and strengthen its representation of Māori.

“There is a voice that is not being heard and that is the voice of urban Māori and I think Willie brings very strong credentials in that regard.”

Jackson said, “Everyday I’m working to improve the lives of our people who lead all the worst statistics, our people, women, workers our statistics are a priority for me and it always will be whether Andrew or whether the party I should say gives me this position or not.”

However, according to the Open Letter, some Party members have a different view.

The letter says, “From defending the conduct of the Roastbusters gang, to questioning the suitability of a Labour MP for leadership because of his sexuality, to advocating for National’s charter schools, Mr Jackson has, time and time again, demonstrated his unsuitability to be a New Zealand Labour Party Member of Parliament.”

It goes on to say, “We, the undersigned members, in light of Mr Jackson’s comments and conduct, urge New Zealand Councillors to reject Mr Jackson’s membership, and to vote against his nomination at List Moderation Committee.”

The Labour Party General Secretary Andrew Kirton said " The Labour Party is open and democratic and members are always free to express their views."

Poto Williams the party spokesperson for Family and Sexual Violence, took to Facebook to express her concern over his nomination, she wrote;

“I was a vocal opponent of Mr Jackson's comments during the 'Roast-Busters' incident and I do not believe that his attitude towards victims of sexual abuse match what I expect of a member of the Labour Party. Especially a member of our caucus.”

She went on to say, “I welcome the opportunity to support Mr Jackson in apologising and making those changes. Until then, as someone who speaks for the victims of family and sexual violence, and as a survivor of such abuse, I cannot in good conscience support him as my colleague.” 

Jackson has offered another apology in regards to his comments on the Roast-Busters incident and told reporters at Waitangi, "The truth is I think it was pretty well addressed at the time, but it is an area that I understand why shes concerned."