The battle can begin now as Prime Minister Bill English has announced this year's general election will be held on September 23.

Whatever the date, the game changer in this election was most certainly the resignation of John Key as Prime Minister and National will realise it needs to work that bit harder for a fourth term now it can't count on his personality for votes.

Mr English would, I am sure, be the first to admit he cannot compete with Mr Key as a people person, so the party's focus looks set to be the stability the National Government has brought to the country since it came to power in 2008.

He implied this at his press conference yesterday to announce the date, when he indicated the economy would be the "central issue".


It was probably a good strategy to put that message out early because he will be wanting to focus attention on the country's sound financial and economic footing - the implication being that he, as Finance Minister, played a big role in that, so therefore can be trusted with running the country.

It is a good argument to make and is probably more of a winning platform than if he tried to be the new John Key.

What National also has in its favour is that Steven Joyce is a good campaign manager and will bring an organisation and structure to the National strategy.

On the other side, Labour and the Greens believe it is their turn and they would have felt as if they'd won Lotto when Mr Key stepped down. They will come out swinging but have a lot of work to do and, as the saying goes, governments are never voted in, they are voted out.

And then there is Winston Peters ...