By Roger Childs
If Labour forms the next government in a few weeks time, commentators and historians will acknowledge the role of a key player.
He is of course, Andrew Little.
It was he, who in a thoughtful, pragmatic decision stepped aside from the Labour leadership allowing the more charismatic Jacinda Ardern to seamlessly slip into the role. There was no acrimony and no blood on the red carpet.
The pundits warned against Labour changing horses in mid-stream, however if you can safely get in the saddle on a stronger steed, it’s the way to go.
Labour has seized the initiative
Under the refreshing Ardern leadership Labour has now overtaken National in the polls both as leading party and preferred prime minister.
However one poll doesn’t make a government, and there are still three week to go.
The most important poll is on September 23. However, as my good friend David Hadfield says: Having momentum is the key to winning.
National on the back foot
The Tory campaign has stalled. The poll which put Labour ahead for the first time since 2005, could not have come at a worse time: just before the first debate. (More on the latter shortly.)
Labour also got the jump on National by having the first official launch. It was an enthusiastic showpiece for the new leader who came up with an exciting policy idea which has support across the political spectrum: a levy of bottled water.
Meanwhile the government’s launch was a very tepid affair with the big announcement being to give children a chance to learn a second language at school.
Some commentators believe that highlighting education was a late change from announcing future tax cuts, which the advisers rightly concluded was inappropriate.
English should have cleaned up in the debate
The experienced Bill English was expected to give his fledging opponent a drubbing in the TV1 election debate. He certainly started confidently while Ardern was obviously a little nervous, but he failed to make the big hits.
When two different DomPost writers picked the comment people can’t buy groceries on the basis of your values, as being his best line, it’s clear that he wasn’t cleaning up the contest.
Ardern got into stride in the second half and came across as being honest and sincere. No doubt she will be more confident in the next one.
Writing on the wall?
The future polls are likely to see both National and Labour in the 40s, with the lead possibly changing. It’s how the Greens and New Zealand First perform which will determine who sits in the treasury benches come October.
The arrogant Winston Peters has said: National and Labour can’t tell you who will form the next government, but I can!
I sense that he is now not as smug as he was. He’s always fancied himself as the “Kingmaker” but could miss out this time on what he calls the baubles of office.
The selfish and arrogant Meritira Turei, unfortunately put the Greens into a tailspin in August, but they may recover. If they can regain enough ground to get the left over the line in concert with Labour, the MP for Northland will not be featuring in cabinet.
Time will tell. A change in government looks likely if not certain, and even my right wing friends agree.