It was a couple of weeks ago, at the height of Labour’s most recent series of fluffs. You know, the stuff about Indian chefs and acting like Rob Muldoon with bank lending rates.

I was killing time around Parliament, waiting for a minister. A Labour Party insider was killing time too. We got talking.

Andrew Little said this. Andrew Little said that. Tired of his cock-ups. Tired of being blamed for his mistakes.

It wasn’t a surprise morale in the Labour Party was low, it was a surprise someone was being honest about it.

For a while now, everyone in the party has bravely kept painting their faces, putting on their party frocks and pretending life was peachy.

Later that day, I walked through the arrivals gate at Auckland airport next to a well-connected political mover and shaker. We got talking. Trouble’s brewing in the Labour Party.

They’re talking of cutting Grant Robertson. They’re talking of cutting the chief of staff. Watch this space.

That was two weeks ago. That was before the party hit 28 per cent in the latest poll.

You can only imagine the plots being hatched involving Little, the candlestick and the drawing room.

Matt McCarten was David Cunliffe’s chief of staff and Little kept him on.

It is believed that the “Vote Positive” slogan at the last election, designed work in conjunction with Nicky Hager’s attempt to take down the government. That ploy failed, and so has every mad cap scheme since. It would be time for Matt McCarten to take some blame, particularly because Little is now railing against tax dodgers…it is a bit unbecoming to have a tax dodger as your chief of staff. The only upside is you can speak with some authority on the subject.

Labour are in real trouble, and MPs are already planning on the likely loss of the 2017 election.

Here’s some advice for the Labour Party: don’t start cutting people. They’re not your problem.

Actually they are. Let’s actually name them. Trevor Mallard, Annette King, Clare Curran, Sue Moroney, Phil Twyford, Chris Hipkins, and Nanaia Mahuta. Let’s call them the Seven Dwarves of Labour….or Bully, Harpy, Dopey, Nasty, Silly, Chippy and Lazy. They are all useless in various different ways, and some are well past their use by date having entered parliament nearly 30 years ago.

Your problem is, despite many changes at the top, many years in Opposition, you are still completely unsure of what you believe in.

Labour has it tough. Labour parties across the world have it tough. These were parties formed to save workers from unjust working conditions. The parties have mostly succeeded. Workplaces and employment legislation is a million times better now than in 1916.

So what does a political party do when its mission is accomplished?

It sits down with a cup of tea – the eight years of opposition might have been an opportune time – and figures out its next task.

I don’t think they have any idea of where to even begin.

But it has to be honest about what it stands for.

Labour told us it stood for the old flag. That’s not true. In black and white, its own policy was to change the flag. It was just trying to get one over John Key. Well, it got one over John Key and it’s still polling worse than the tea-towel flag.

Labour told us it stood for free tertiary education for all. But, that just sounded like a crappier version of Helen Clark’s interest-free student loans.

Labour told us it stood for keeping Indian restaurant chef jobs for Kiwis. We pondered why we had never seriously considered a career as a chef in an Indian restaurant.

Labour needs to remember it was founded to represent WORKING people. That’s the brand. HDPA though departs for fantasytland as she wraps up her column. I suspect her husband might have helped out at the end, since his glasses are red tinted.

It doesn’t have to be like this for a party slowly strangled by its own success. Look at UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He’s beating David Cameron in some polls. He’s a borderline-communist eccentric you’re never entirely convinced bothered to shower that morning.

But he’s authentic. He says what he means and will do it.

He’s the opposite of John Key, the PM whose only firm belief is a country should be run like a policy popularity contest.

Being authentic is a difficult and brave thing to do. If it was easy, Labour would have nailed it. And yet it’s as simple as this: at its heart, Labour in 1916 stood for making things fairer. Labour in 2016 should also stand for making things fairer.

In the past fortnight, we found out how unfair tax is. Rich people with links to the Panama Papers dodge tax, Facebook pays us less than $50,000 tax in a year. The Government shrugs and looks away.

There you go, Labour. Try fixing the age-old inequalities in tax. There’s something you can stand for.

I don’t think the tax system is fair at all. It is full of skewed narratives. For a start 15% of taxpayers pay 75% of the tax…that’s not fair. Working for Families discriminated in favour of breeders and is available to all but the very wealthy…that’s not fair.  Addressing both of those issues would go a long way to sorting out the tax system. Labour talks about a “fair share” of tax…surely a flat rate applied to all is the only “fair” way of levying taxes. Then everyone actually does contribute their “fair” share.

Meanwhile Labour shouldn’t axe McCarten, then who will they blame for the ongoing failures.


– NZ Herald