Helen Clark called Michael Cullen into her office one day and said, 'Michael, I have a great idea! We are going to go all-out to win back the confidence of the grassroots electorate'.
'Good idea PM, how will we go about it?' asked Cullen.
'Well,' said Helen 'we'll get ourselves one of those long Driza-Bone coats, some proper gumboots, a stick and a leather hat - oh, and a collie; then we'll really look the part. We'll go to a nice old pub, in Taihape, or one of those country towns, and show how we really enjoy getting back to the heartland. We'll mix and mingle with the locals, and get to understand their problems and aspirations - to let them know the Labour Party has not forgotten them.'
'Right PM' said Cullen.
So a few days later, all kitted out and with the requisite collie in tow, they set off from Wellington. Eventually they arrived at just the place they were looking for, found a nice quiet pub and, with the dog at heel, went in and up to the bar.
'Good evening barman, may we have two pints of Lion Red,' said Helen.
'Good evening, Prime Minister' said the landlord,' two pints of the best it is, coming up'.
Clark and Cullen stood leaning on the bar drinking their beer and chatting, nodding now and again to the locals who came into the bar for a drink. The dog lay quietly at their feet.
All of a sudden, the door from the adjacent bar swung open, and in came a weather-beaten old farmer. He walked up to the collie, lifted its tail and looked underneath, shrugged his shoulders, and walked back to the other bar.
A few moments later, in came another old farmer. He too walked up to the dog, lifted its tail, looked underneath, scratched his head and went back to the other bar.
Over the course of the next hour or so, several other locals came in, lifted the dog's tail, and went away looking puzzled.
Eventually Clark and Cullen could stand it no longer, and called the barman over.
'Tell me' said Clark, 'why did all those old farmers come in and look under the dog's tail like that? Is it an old custom around here?'
'Good Lord no,' said the barman. 'It's just that someone went and told them that there was a collie in this bar with two arseholes.'