Quantifying party leader traits to attempt a comparison

Guest Post

Over the last few years probably, since the 1999 election, I have been amazed at the growth of the Liberal progressive both in NZ and overseas. They have probably been around all my life, however, everywhere I turn nowadays it seems they are there telling me and you what to do.

This has led me to ask the question – what is a liberal and in particular, a liberal leader? This in turn led to the inevitable question – what is the definition of liberal?

Liberal –


  1. willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas. “liberal views towards divorce”
  2. (of education) concerned with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training. “the provision of liberal adult education”


A person of liberal views. “A concern among liberals about the relation of the citizen to the state.”

All pretty straight forward really except that none of the liberal leaders that I have heard fit into any of these categories – in particular – “willing to respect or accept…etc”. In fact I would think that concept would be anathema to a person like Andrew Little

Ouch, now my head started to hurt! So I thought maybe I should look at the term progressive – maybe that will give a better definition of our liberal leaders and what makes them tick.

Progressive –


  1. happening or developing gradually or in stages. “a progressive decline in popularity”
  2. (of a person or idea) favouring social reform. “a relatively progressive Minister of Education”


  1. an advocate of social reform. “people tend to present themselves either as progressives or traditionalists on this issue”

So… Someone who listens and accepts others views and wishes gradual change for the benefit of all people – nah sorry – this definition does not get close to Andrew and co.

A couple of stiff whiskeys later I hit on the bright idea that maybe Andrew and company are closer to the left than truly liberal or progressive – maybe they are socialist or even communist.

Socialism –


  1. a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
  2. policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
  3. (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism.

Well, this is certainly getting closer to what I believe Andrew Little and others of his ilk adhere to, but somehow it still doesn’t quite fit. So lets look at –

Communism –


a theory or system of social organization in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.

Nope still doesn’t cut the mustard – so lets look at the last extreme “ism” and see if they fit in this niche –

Facism –


an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organisation.

(in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.

“this is yet another example of health fascism in action”

Damn! This definition comes the closest to Andrew Little except it is extreme RIGHT wing. All the other bits fit – extreme, authoritarian (let’s all work together and do it my way) intolerant – in fact, communist Russia was closer to this definition than so-called socialism or even communism.

So, if they don’t fit the definition how is it possible to recognise one of these individuals?

My next thought was to look at the various human traits and see if I could come up with a formulae that would let me identify these types of leaders easily .

I selected the following traits to look at for this exercise:

Negative traits –

Addiction to power

Positive traits –

A listener
Willingness to change a view
Accepts Change
Is truthful
Tolerance of others

For these traits I will award a score between 1 and 10 – 1 as least likely to have this trait and 10 most likely.

Let’s compare Andrew Little with John Key and see if there are any major differences.

Negative Trait Andrew Little John Key
Addiction to power 8 8
Narcissistic 10 3
Vanity 8 5
Racist 9 2
Aggressive 10 3
Greed 8 2
Totals (low is better) 53 23
Positive traits
A listener 1 10
Willingness to change a view 1 8
Truthfullness 2 7
Tolerance of others 1 8
Totals (high is better) 5 33


Wow!! Maybe I am totally biased. Negative – Little 53, Key 23. Positive –  Little 5, Key 33.

So, how did I come up with these numbers?

Addiction to power – In the dog-eat-dog world of union organisers only the strong and those willing to stab others in the back survive. That is Little’s background. Key comes from a trading background where the winner takes all. Both score highly in this trait.

Narcissism – Again the Union background rewards those who are in it for number one. Narcissism is a requirement for Little! Key is a team builder and delegates well and therefore does not display much of this trait.

Vanity – Little goes out of his way to garner attention and uses standard union tactics to try to browbeat others. Key likes attention but seemingly does not crave it.

Racism – One only has to mention chinky-sounding names and Little in the same sentence to come up with racism. Key does not seem to have any racial bias at all.

Aggression – The nickname “angry” says it all. Little is all aggression. Key has a brilliant and biting wit so he scores a moderate 3 for aggression – probably too high.

Greed – A bit hard to quantify. I use greed as the overall need of the individual to dominate and have it all – a bit of a combination trait that Little scores high in. Key is pretty passive in this area.

On the positive traits – I scored them this way.

Listening – If it doesn’t fit the party line or is said by any member of the Key government, then it must be wrong according to Little – very low score. Key is a good listener and this translates into high scores for the other traits.

Changing of view – Little really outdoes himself here: “I was not asked for an apology by Sherwan.” A zero would be most appropriate. Key is the first PM to admit he is wrong and is more than willing to say it – he even has Bill English accepting he may have used the wrong figures in question time!

Tells the truth – See changing of view for Little – I may have been generous with a 2. Key gets 7 because he is a politician!

Tolerance of others – Little, like most of his cadre. has no tolerance for anyone with a dissenting view. Key scores 8 in this category as he has shown a distinct lack of tolerance for fools in question time. C’mon John we know some are dolahley by lunchtime and others are just nutters – but even fools deserve some scraps (yeah nah!).

So. my conclusion is that a high score on the negative and low score on the positive is an indication of liberal progressive (fascist) tendencies, Conversely, a low negative coupled with a high positive indicates a progressive conservative.

Try this table out on your favourite people – you may be surprised at the outcome!


Anyone want to do one for Cam and pop it in the comments below? – Pete

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