One colour dominates Labour’s launch

The song that welcomed Labour leader David Cunliffe on stage at his campaign launch yesterday was Don McGlashan doing a cover of Split Enz's Time for a Change.

It is safe to say that other Split Enz classic, I See Red, would have been a bit obvious and redundant. Everything was red - the stage lighting at the Viaduct Events Centre, Mr Cunliffe's tie, the placards the crowd of 800 were waving.

Even his wife Karen's scarf was red, although she matched it with a vibrant green jacket, possibly hinting at her preferred coalition partner for Labour.

Mr Cunliffe wandered through this sea of red, kissing, shaking hands, posing for selfies, sharing a hongi with Tamati Coffey. He gazed from the stage with hand to his brow like a captain surveying his sea.

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Outside afterwards there was yet more red. A grinning Mr Cunliffe stood next to an oversized version of himself on the side of a big red bus to deliver some parting rallying words to the faithful. There was a caption next to it for those who weren't quite sure who the guy was. It said "David Cunliffe, Labour Party leader". Mr Cunliffe gave the bus the imaginative name of Big Red Bus.

"We are Labour and we are proud. We are going to bring a new start to New Zealand. And we are going to do it from this red bus. It's going to stand out like the proverbial ... big red thing."

Nobody was quite sure what that particular proverbial thing was and nobody liked to ask. The bus was a tad larger than the Wiggles' big red car, and Mr Cunliffe is likely to need as many parties of other colours to form a government as the Wiggles have jerseys.

But he did not want to talk about who was on the shortlist to be his co-Wiggles. In particular, he did not want to talk about the purple-jerseyed ones, Internet-Mana. Instead, he focused on Labour's new health policy of free doctor visits.

Pre-empting the expected accusations of big spending from National, finance spokesman David Parker was on hand and brandished his fiscal plan with such vigour he came perilously close to slapping Mr Cunliffe about the face with it.

Sure enough, National came through within minutes with another red they believed Labour would deliver: red ink.

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