Labour MP Damien O'Connor is defending his comments attacking the way the party's list is selected.

He says the list for the upcoming election, released yesterday, was drawn up by a "gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists".

Mr O'Connor says some groups within the party have too much control of the list.

He says there is a risk the party will not be seen as representing all of New Zealand.

"I'm not in any way saying that we shouldn't represent the values of the unions in looking after people who need support. What I'm saying is that personal agendas and politics in the unions shouldn't dictate the outcome of what should be a democratic system," he says.

Mr O'Connor expects his comments will cause some friction within the party.

Mr O'Connor this morning stood by the comments but would not say which individuals he had been referring to.

"There are obviously many good people involved in the Labour Party at all levels, but the list is not ideal, it is one that was set out right at the start of MMP and probably needs to be looked at," he told Radio New Zealand.

"But I stand by what I said. We have to uphold the principles and the objectives but it doesn't mean to say we have to uphold the agendas of individuals or particular unions."

Mr O'Connor said a number of people had been overlooked in the ranking process.

"Provincial MPs in the Labour Party have ended up being isolated ... there's a risk that then the party doesn't represent the wider New Zealand."

Leader Phil Goff said Mr O'Connor had been told off for the comments, but that the "West Coast language" was actually likely to help him in his bid for the electorate.

Political commentator David Slack said the Labour list is so bland, "If they stood against a white wall, you'd lose them."

He has some sympathy with Mr O'Connor.

"I think it's a pity for the party that they don't have people who are speaking with as much emotion as he is. I think that is really part of their problem, they've been so careful and dull that you don't know what the hell they're talking about," he says.

Mr Slack says the Labour list is certainly chosen by people who do not see the world the same way as it is seen from the West Coast.

Former party president Andrew Little is defending the group that ranks the party's list, in the wake of Mr O'Connor's comments.

Andrew Little is number 15 on the list - the highest ranking non MP - says all parts of the party are represented on the list moderating committee.

"There's, I think, two people who come from the unions out of 36 who sit around that table. They're people who represent women, the ethnic groups, there's Maori, there's Pacifica, there's the Rainbow group and there's people from the caucus," he says.

He said Mr O'Connor's comments are not helpful.

- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB