Last week Matthew Hooton questioned David Cunliffe’s claim he’d exaggerated his role in helping with the formation of Fonterra.
Cunliffe responded with a time sheet from the Boston Consulting Group.
Hooton has now responded to that.
. . . In politics, explaining is losing so in writing all this I have just lost the little public contretemps between me and the likely next prime minister. I was wrong to call Mr Cunliffe a liar when he said he had “helped with the formation of Fonterra” and consequently apologise to him for using an inaccurate word.
On reflection, I think he genuinely believes that a month’s work in 1997 on the impact on R&D of an early iteration of a failed proposal for dairy industry consolidation is the same as “help[ing] with the formation of Fonterra”, but I do not agree. Nor would any of the top players in the GlobalCo project.
While I think his claim to have “helped with the formation of Fonterra” is untrue, I accept he believes it and it is good that the likely next prime minister feels such a strong connection with the country’s most important export industry. . .
Of course, this little kerfuffle is hardly the biggest issue facing the nation, and is relevant only because Mr Cunliffe’s Fonterra comments are the same type of self-aggrandisement that gets him into trouble over other issues. There were his false or exaggerated claims of community work for the Auckland and Wellington City Missions and Forest & Bird, and his claim to have graduated with a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Business School when in fact he earned the degree from the nearly-as-impressive John F. Kennedy School of Government.
It is the same self-aggrandisement his colleagues complain about: that he takes credit for policy work for which he has only peripheral involvement. . .
This all pretty petty, even to a political tragic, but it does provide an insight into Cunliffe’s character and confirm that less is more with CVs.
It’s safer to stick with the basics. If you’re as good as you think you are it will soon be obvious, and if you’re not, you haven’t tried to convince anyone you are.
The media and political opponents will remember this but what matters now to most others is not what Cunliffe did in the past, and how he portrays it, but how he performs now and what he plans to do in the future.