Media bleating about Labour’s ‘personal attacks’ is getting tiresome. Some journalists seem to forget from one election to the next that an important element of the triennial exercise is to find out whether contenders for political office are fit to hold elected office. That means they will be probed, scrutinised and, yes, criticised, for failings or weaknesses, real or perceived. The higher the office, the more rigorous the scrutiny. It has been this way forever – it is called politics. It can be a robust business, and not one for those who lack conviction or courage. The challenge for those involved in this campaign hurly-burly is to stay within the foul lines. Targeting slippery John Key over his ownership of Tranz Rail shares when he was questioning the government for competing with Toll to buy back the rail tracks, is hardly a case of playing outside the foul lines. The crux of this issue is that Key appeared to have a conflict of interest, and Helen Clark rightfully pounced. If Key wants to be PM he has to demonstrate that he will be a credible and competent leader of our country. Clark, fighting for her political life, will be endeavouring to prove otherwise. A conflict of interest is damaging to Key’s credibility, and that’s why Clark highlighted it. Prissy journos who don’t like her hard-nosed approach had better harden up. We’ve got about four months of it ahead of us.