My holiday was too long - Cunliffe

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Last updated 15:53 22/07/2014
ALEX LIU/stuff.co.nz

Labour leader David Cunliffe gets on the front foot.

David Cunliffe
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
MEA CULPA: Labour Leader David Cunliffe says he wouldn't have taken a holiday had he known how poorly his party was rating in the polls.

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Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted to making errors, including taking an over-long three-day holiday in Queenstown last week.

Cunliffe emerged from a caucus meeting of his MPs today promising to make changes to the way he and the party delivered their messages and admitting that the holiday was a mistake.

"I take responsibility for things I could have done better," he said.

"I'm happy to say that with the information that I now have about the movement in the polls, which I didn't have when I made that decision [to take a holiday], I would have made a different decision."

He certainly would not have gone on such a long break, though he noted he was also ill for two days "and I didn't have much choice about that".

In response to a run of dismal poll results the party would change its internal systems and focus on a narrower range of issues, he said.

They would be "jobs, homes and families" and not "cosmetics and other stuff", a reference to the party's policy on banning cosmetics tested on animals that grabbed headlines last week.

Labour would not take policy off the books, but would focus on the core ones, especially at leader level.

"We will be doing a smaller number of larger releases," he said.

Cunliffe said he did not resile from the sentiment of comments he made to a women's refuge meeting, at which he apologised for being a man because of the level of domestic violence in New Zealand.

With one in three women suffering domestic violence it was an epidemic problem that everyone needed to think about.

But he said that at no time did he say, or imply, that all men were perpetrators.

"I don't think that. Never did," he said.

But he accepted that "how that was quoted out of context and bounced" was not helpful and he was determined to be careful how he put things from now on.

"I am going to be on message on target and on the front foot."

The approach now would be to "stick to the Labour knitting" and narrow the range of messages, Cunliffe said.

He was "100 per cent convinced" a weekend story critical of him and his holiday did not come from an MP, saying he trusted his MPs and they were honorable.

He had a reasonable idea who had said it, but he would not comment further.

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