News that former Minister John Tamihere is sounding out Labour apparatchiks on a return to the ranks suggests that Paula Bennett may be in for a run for her money in Tamihere's favoured electorate of Waitakere in 2014.

Whether Tamihere will be forgiven for his 'unwise' comments about Labour's feministas, and homosexual MPs, or his Holocaust revisionism, remains to be seen.

However, there is no perfume like success. And while Labour's identity politics and the elephantine memory of politicians in general for slights may be limiting, his high public profile, and outspoken support for urban Māori, should make him more than palatable with the Party's leadership.

Should Tamihere be rehabilitated that outcome will say a lot not just about political pragmatism, but also the changing nature of Labour's relationship with Māori. Critical of the traditional iwi and championing the cause of disengaged urban Māori, Tamihere could be a bellwether for a more defined split in Māori support between Labour, the Māori Party and National.