Labour leader Andrew Little has presented his election winning strategy for 2017 and it is shaped like a donut.

There is a big hole in the centre.

He presented this sweet treat after former Prime Minister Helen Clark advised that in order to win an election in New Zealand "you must command the centre ground."

Not so, Little said. The centre did not exist. It was a "hollow term". It was the middle of the donut. This came as a shock to many. It has long been accepted wisdom that reaping votes from the centre was the key recipe for electoral success.


Then again, it was also once accepted wisdom that the earth was flat. Just as Ferdinand Magellan set out to prove the earth was round, Little embarked to disprove the centre ground theory.

He would not win in 2017 by taking the centre ground. Instead, he would win by taking "middle New Zealand".

He would do this by appealing to "a coalition of constituencies".

These constituencies included the following. Low and middle income earners worried about housing, and business people who didn't think National had done enough.

Little would not go left or right, these were equally ridiculous concepts which did not exist in the lives of middle New Zealand.

He would not go north or south, or up and down. He would go to the middle. To be clear, that is the middle which did exist and not the centre which did not.

Let us not ruin such brave thinking by pointing out to Little the thesaurus lists "middle" as a synonym for "centre" and Clark's "centre ground" was exactly the same thing as his own "middle New Zealand".

Let us not ask questions such as what "middle" was in the middle of if left and right did not exist.


And let us not point out that despite his claim terms such as "right" and "left" were irrelevant, it was not very long ago Little banned his MP Stuart Nash from associating with Wellington mayoral candidate Nick Leggett because Leggett was "right wing".

Understandably Little's proclamations about the centre prompted some mockery.

Among the disbelievers was United Future's Peter Dunne.

Dunne is perhaps the best evidence in support of Little's contention that the centre is "hollow" turf. Dunne has long claimed to represent the "centre" but got a paltry 0.22 per cent of the vote in the last election.

Nonetheless, Parliament' resident centre expert set out a history lesson, listing governments which had risen and fallen courtesy of the centre vote.

Dunne then presented Little with a post-Apocalypse scenario of his disregard for the centre: a day in which NZ First would become the leading Opposition party by hoovering up Labour's alienated right wing.


Little of course will suggest this is nonsense, not least because the entire concept of a "right" wing is nonsense.

Dismissing Dunne is one thing but Little had broken one of Labour's 10 Commandments. He had disputed - gasp! - advice from St Helen.

That is the very same Clark who managed to win and then hold on to the Government benches for three elections running while he was yet to get even one win under his belt.
It is unclear why Little was so prickly about Clark's advice. Perhaps he saw it as an implicit criticism of his leadership. Perhaps he is sensitive to being depicted as a lefty.

Or perhaps it was because it was given while Prime Minister John Key was in New York helping Clark with her bid for Secretary General. The pair of them could have rivalled the Monteverdi Choir, such was the singing of each others' praises.

Had Clark too committed the cardinal sin of associating with the "right wing"?

While all this was going on, Green Party co-leader James Shaw was drawing attention to being the second ranked Opposition MP in a survey of chief executives for the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom.


Things are at a contrary stage when a National leader is praising a former Labour leader to the skies, a Green Party co-leader is boasting about being embraced by big business and a Labour leader is denying the centre exists.

There is another well-known historical figure who had the same surname as Little and a similar problem with fear of things that didn't exist. His first name was Chicken.