Labour Party President Nigel Haworth has rapped party delegates over the knuckles, telling them a lack of discipline and internal bickering hurt the party and made it look amateurish.

Mr Haworth delivered his address to the Labour Party conference in Palmerston North this morning.

He spoke of the party's defeat in 2014 and the need to make sure it was focused on winning in 2017.

To do that, Labour needed to have discipline and focus in everything it did, he said.


However, Mr Haworth said the delegates too had to play their part.

"First we have to decide whether we are a united, disciplined party or a jolly decent loose federation of like-minded people and organisations. For that is how we often appear."

He said there were instances in which the party had approved a pamphlet or billboard but local branches had refused to use them or instead used their own versions.

"[They] decide they don't agree with it, or they don't like the design, or Andrew isn't smiling enough, or whatever, they don't like the particular shade of red...There are many other examples of this delightfully organic federation-style behaviour.

"The point is simple. We can operate like a loose federation if we want to. But such behaviour weakens our campaign, weakens our brand, and frankly makes us look amateur. And in this modern world we can not afford to look amateur."

One of the criticisms of a review of the party identified was a failure to focus on the party vote in some electorates.

Mr Haworth said the party vote was the only way to win an election.

"All of us across the party must be unequivocally campaigning for party vote Labour."


He said the whole party also had to take responsibility for fundraising - another key failure the party's review team had identified in 2014.

"It is not someone else's problem."

Mr Haworth also said party delegates had to ensure new members were made to feel welcome, rather than if it was a "members-only club."