Square Peg Recruiting comes up with candidate to fill Labour hole

The Labour Party's quest for a leader to take the faithful to a glorious triumph in the 2017 elections may take some time.

The daunting task is the hands of Square Peg Recruiting, the highly respected human resources firm best remembered for recommending Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Phil Goff and David Shearer for the coveted leadership role in comparatively recent times.

Square Peg's exhaustive research and wide-ranging headhunting is based on the realisation they hold in their hands the very future of a party which has high hopes of a really good old-fashioned knees-up in its centennial year in 2016.

Already, in South Dunedin the Bill Fraser Lounge is being repainted and the caterers have put in their tenders.

Of course, the festivities will be muted because Labour will not be the government during the celebrations, but then nor was it in 1916.

Square Peg is sworn to absolute secrecy, which explains why its first report to Labour's ruling council has been released to the United States National Security Agency and this column only.

Recruitment Report - Leader, Labour Party.

Square Peg notes your wish to have at the head of the party a well-known name. A person of wide popular appeal, utterly impeccable moral fibre and enough financial backing to avoid a repeat of this year's pathetic campaign budget.

We note the need to appeal to the younger voters, who want more than the ''what we did in 1935 to save the widows and orphans'' speeches. (Our own in-depth research shows the younger generation will be voting for far longer than the elderly and you must take these young people with you.)

It is evident these requirements must preclude any sitting members from being considered. But recruiting from outside the present MPs should pose no problem.

A by-election in a safe Labour seat is all that is needed. Several members have indicated they would be willing to resign and, as one MP expressed it, ''get back to the real world''. One went so far as to admit he had had what almost amounted to a firm offer for one of the big jobs to be set up in National's Investing in Educational Success policy.

His comment, ''there's $360 million up for grabs in this and I want my fair suck of the sav'', perhaps indicates that this is one Labour Party member whose ideals have strayed a little from the philosophy of the blessed Peter Fraser of fond memory.

Our ''presidential'' style politics demands a charismatic leader, a quality entirely absent within the House of Representatives. We note, however, that in politics even minor achievements give a charismatic veneer, as the present prime minister's image demonstrates.

Examples being his ability to handle the burden of being very rich while seeming to be very ordinary and his lasting a round of golf with an international figure who must have spent much of the time checking that his trundler was free of concealed explosive devices.

An American connection attracts the New Zealand voter, it seems. We are confident we have found a candidate who can fulfil these requirements. We have considered our nomination carefully, as the leader chosen must last the distance.

Our opinion is that any party which can hang on to the same leader for at least three years will have nurtured a ''potential president'' and this, we believe, was the case in the recent National Party success.

The leader need do nothing of any note during the three years, but simply staying there wins votes. As an aside, a new leader is going to be successful if a personalised slogan becomes associated with him or her, rather than some wishy-washy, general phrase.

''Vote Positive'' did ''not have the voters stampeding to the booths waving the red flag'' as one political scientist has astutely observed. Square Peg has reports of many bewildered electors in the booths looking for the name ''Positive'' on the voting form.

Personalised slogans like ''Coats Off with Coates'' and ''All the Way with LBJ'' illustrate what is needed. History teaches much in this game.

Summary: We recommend a new leader from outside the present Labour caucus; with a sense of fun and an appeal to the younger voter; with an image which fits well with the present political scene and with an inane but catchy slogan; a person with no particularly strong policy ideas; with an international profile; easily recognised by appearance and name by all New Zealanders and being seen as trying to do some good in a naughty world.

We have selected our preferred candidate and he's here now. May we present him too you? ''Come right up please Mr McDonald.''

''Hi, I'm Ronald. And I'm Loving It!''

Jim Sullivan is a Dunedin writer and broadcaster.

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