The secret diary of ... David Cunliffe

21:51, Mar 10 2014

MONDAY Was on my way out the door this morning when I caught a reflection of myself in the hallway mirror and realised that my tie didn't entirely represent Labour values. It was midnight blue, and made of silk.

All my ties are 100 per cent silk. I get them in knitted and woven styles, and sometimes branch out into amusing animal prints. I get them from my man in Jermyn St in London. He takes his bespoke tailoring seriously and so I fly over for neck fittings twice a year. He says to me, "Hold still, please, Mr Cunliffe; just about there, sir." He's a character, like someone out of Dickens. There are many working-class characters in Dickens' novels. I've got to know them well over the years.

Interestingly, George Orwell writes, "If one examines Dickens's novels in detail, one finds that his real subject-matter is the London commercial bourgeoisie and their hangers-on - lawyers, clerks, tradesmen, innkeepers, small craftsmen, and servants." But Orwell is hardly an authority on the subject. Lawyers, clerks, tradesmen, innkeepers, small craftsmen, and servants are all workers, too.

You have to take a broad definition of working-class. But you also have to recognise divisions. You can't treat an innkeeper or a small craftsman like you would a lawyer or a big craftsman.

Key wouldn't understand. He sits there in his fancy house in a leafy suburb, and he treats everybody the same.

In any case, I went back down the hallway this morning to the bedroom, took off the tie, and chose the patterned one of a horse eating a carrot. That'll have caucus roaring with laughter!

TUESDAY waiting for caucus to roar with laughter.

I think the problem is they won't catch my eye, let alone my tie.

But most of our MPs are very quiet people. They bend their head to the task. They keep to themselves. Strangely, I walked in on about a dozen of them this evening, when I slipped away from work and popped into a local bistro for a light snack of faux foie gras.

I heard them before I saw them. They were making a hell of a racket, laughing and banging their wine glasses on the table. Or maybe that was just Shane Jones.

As soon as they saw me, the table went quiet.

I took a seat. The conversation flowed like wine, which had run out.

My plate arrived. "No geese were harmed in the making of this foie gras," I explained. "It's faux. Not real. Fake."

"Yeah," said Jones, and winked at the table.

WEDNESDAY went looking for my new chief of staff, Matt McCarten, this afternoon. "He's in the war room," I was told.

I found him in there, standing over a long table. It was covered with toy soldiers and miniature castles, forts, moats, trenches, and bushes which concealed entrances and exits to a network of underground tunnels.

He was wearing desert goggles and a knee-length leather coat.

I said, "Do you think they entirely represent Labour values?" "Jawohl." "Right-ho." He didn't say anything.

"Best leave you to it," I said.

THURSDAY kind of amusing animal print, like the one of an elephant balancing a beachball on its trunk?

FRIDAY the woven tie in salmon which you can team up with a plain or striped shirt for a sophisticated feel?

I lay all the ties out on the bed, and couldn't decide. In the end I just lay down. I found my iPod, and listened to Joy Division. "There's a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold ... " I looked out the window. The tide was out. A breeze blew in from the bay. Autumn was stripping the leaves off the trees.

Steve Braunias is a Metro staff writer.