Labour leader David Cunliffe is pledging to stop sledging his political opponents and has instructed his MPs to do the same.

The public is frustrated at political debate that focuses on personal attacks rather than targeting policies, Mr Cunliffe said.

Labour has a mature and capable team, but it will be hard not to respond in kind when they are subjected to personal attacks, he said.

His advice to veteran verbal battlers like Trevor Mallard, when facing such situations, was to breathe through his nose.


"It's always a bit tempting in the parliamentary bear pit to respond and we will need to show some restraint and probably won't be perfect.

Mr Cunliffe said New Zealanders were frustrated by the theatrics during question time in Parliament and this was an attempt to improve the political tone.

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