At the last election New Zealand First campaigned on three key issues: immigration, law and order and the Treaty of Waitangi. This time the list is expanded to five. As well as the original three, the party has added policies on senior citizens and the economy. All of this is predictable enough, old themes pitched to the party's special constituency.
But the tone of the campaign was set even before the policy launch with Winston Peters' speech on immigration last Thursday. Of all the issues New Zealand First has raised over the years arguably none has shown such resonance in the electorate. Given the anxieties raised by the London bombings it can presumably be expected to pay even greater dividends at the polls this time.
People with a liberal turn of mind will be aghast at the theme of the speech - the End of Tolerance. Radical Islam, Mr Peters argued, threatened to undermine the great traditions of tolerance that this nation has always held dear.
In his view, radical Islam had two faces: one acceptable and the other militant. "In New Zealand the Muslim community have been quick to show us their more moderate face, but as some media reports have shown, there is a militant underbelly here as well. These two groups, the moderate and militant, fit hand and glove everywhere they exist. Underneath it all the agenda is to promote fundamentalist Islam. Indeed these groups are like the mythical Hydra, a serpent underbelly with multiple heads capable of striking at any time and in any direction."
In lurid language this seems to tar all Muslims with the same brush, regardless of where their sympathies lie. What makes the argument especially difficult to counter is that - as reports out of London have shown in the past two weeks - it is possible that a community can have a disaffected "underbelly" that espouses ideologies hateful to the majority.
The point was made clearly by a young Muslim with Pakistani parents in the British town of Luton: "I'm angry at the West. They're grieving for 52 people in London, but I've been grieving for thousands of children in Palestine, in Chechnya, in Kashmir, in Iraq, since I was 15 ... Our parents came here as servants with a Raj mentality. We're not like them."
It is not hard to see how such attitudes prove fertile ground for those who wish to sow the ideology of terrorism.
No question, then, that in some parts of the world the ground is ripe for recruiting terrorists, and this may apply to some extent in New Zealand as well. But Mr Peters goes too far when he refers to "plotting webs" in this country without producing any substantial evidence and, even worse, links the moderates with the radicals as though they are two faces of the same phenomenon. To say that they are hand in glove is rather like saying Timothy McVeigh was in some way an expression of the ideals of Western democracy.
Ask any moderate Muslim about terrorism and he or she will explain that it is a perversion of Islam.
There is no question that immigration is an important issue. Any society coping with large numbers of immigrants will face significant economic, social and cultural consequences that need to be discussed and, if necessary, confronted.
But the discussion should take place in rational tones and be based on hard evidence, otherwise we run the risk of fulfilling Mr Peters' gloomy prediction, albeit in a way that he did not envisage: the end of tolerance.