Without a doubt, Carter’s handling of his disagreement with Phil Goff’s leadership has been mishandled on both sides. Carter has failed to be constructive and has given fodder to the Party’s opponents. The Goffice, it seems, didn’t get on the blower to Carter or sit him down for a talk when they should have, so that the disagreement could have been handled without causing wider damage.
Following Carter’s bizarre letter, the caucus was right to evict him. The caucus is a team and Carter had failed to play as a team member. his actions were stupid and grossly disloyal, not to Goff but to the caucus.
That said, I think Carter should be allowed to stay in the party.
Only one Labour MP has been evicted from the Party to date, John A Lee. A working-class hero he felt the First Labour Government was too moderate and slow-moving. he became an increasingly strong critic of the leadership and the organisation of the Party. The final straw, as with Carter, was a misjudgement that did not typify the man: he wrote an article atacking the mental capability of Michael Joseph Savage to lead as the PM lay in his deathbed. In the end, John A was kicked out of the Labour Party two days before Savage died.
Then as now, there’s a real question over whether someone should be kicked out of the Party for disagreeing with the leadership. John A was never disloyal to the principles that Labour stood for and Carter, too, clearly believes in Labour’s values, even though his abuse of taxpayer money made a mockery of them. If Carter is kicked out essentially just for not getting on with the current leadership, that’s a real problem because Labour is, and should continue to be, far more than just the leadership.
So, there’s the principled reason: following the leader, whether you think they are doing right or wrong, should not be a condition of party membership.
The political reason is that Carter seems quite happy to carry on as a self-branded ‘Independent Labour MP’ and vote the Labour line. That’s perfectly acceptable, the people of Te Atuatu voted for him to be their Labour MP and so he would essentially remain. Kicking him out of the party, though, might change that. Carter might decide to quit, which could force a by-election. i reckon Labour would win it but it doesn’t need the extra strain on human and financial resources right now.