National takes opportunity to spread the fear factor among leadership campaigners.
With Big Brother presumably in mind, John Key last week likened Labour's leadership contest to the reality TV show, in which the contestants are fundamentally incompatible but are forced to live in close proximity to one another.
One of the contenders, Grant Robertson, hit back by suggesting Key was the perfect candidate for a slot on The Weakest Link. With Key overseas, Finance Minister Bill English yesterday sought to keep the heat on Labour with a version of Millionaire Hot Seat in which he portrayed the three Labour MPs fighting to be No 1 as spenders of prize money they had yet to accumulate.
National wants to keep voters focused on what, at times, looks less like a leadership election and more like an old-fashioned lolly scramble. Making this point during question time in Parliament required some dexterity on English's part. Ministers do not have responsibility for Opposition policies and therefore are not supposed to mention them.
So English took a circuitous route, saying there were alternative approaches to National's which involved "reckless spending promises with no credible plan to fund them".
"That is the approach we saw through the mid-2000s. But to give credit where it is due, the Labour leadership candidates are promising to spend ..."
At which point Speaker David Carter interrupted, saying English had no responsibility for that.
Labour's finance spokesman David Parker had a question for English, however. If Labour had left things in such a bad state in 2008 when National became the Government, how was English able to cut taxes?
English batted that one away easily enough by noting that the rise in GST had meant the income tax cuts had a neutral impact on the Government's books.
English was less comfortable with an earlier question from Parker suggesting the Finance Minister had been fiscally loose in handing Rio Tinto a $30 million subsidy to keep the Bluff aluminium smelter running.
Once the new leader is installed, Parker, as finance spokesman, may have to adopt a Biggest Loser style of slimming programme for Labour's body politic grown fat on the big-spending promises of the campaign for Labour's top job.