It’s been an extraordinary few weeks. It started with the double downgrade/DJ Key fiasco and Rena. Then Labour started dictating the play: its policies setting the beat of the campaign; its framing dominating. National took its only asset, Brand Key, and trashed it with its phony, weird opening address. And, then, National’s launch was over-shadowed by the rail loop announcement.
You can tell that Labour’s succeeding because National is suddenly trying to imitate it. Their ads and opening address reeked of complacency and their policy cupboard is bare. Then, suddenly they come up with a policy announcement, except it isn’t a new policy. It’s exactly what’s in the budget but with a new name.
The debates are National’s chance to regain the momentum. Key is the acknowledged master of the short-form, rapid-fire format. But he’ll need something special to get National’s campaign out of stall.