Wow, I didn't see that coming. I knew momentum was heading leftwards, but never thinking Labour's support would jump so dramatically.

Roll on election night, then, it's going to be compulsive viewing. There are now so many interesting questions and permutations.

Will people who didn't vote last election do so this time, pushing Labour even higher?

Read more: Vaughan Gunson: Ardern and the finger point never meant so much
Vaughan Gunson Topical Takes: Lift minimum wage to $20.20


Will some National supporters vote tactically, to give Labour a stronger hand to play against Winston Peters and/or the Greens?

Will the Greens get over 5 per cent?

Will New Zealand First's vote slip further?

Will Hone Harawira get back in Parliament because of tactical voting in Te Tai Tokerau?

And where to now for the National Party?

Last week it seemed to me that its strategy had settled on defending its management of the economy and showing itself to be caring too, through some big spending promises. It wanted to get into Labour's turf.

Vaughan Gunson, columnist for the Northern Advocate.
Vaughan Gunson, columnist for the Northern Advocate.

Further tax cuts, beyond those already announced in this year's Budget (coming into effect April 1 next year) appeared to be off the table.

The changes to the tax thresholds that National outlined in the Budget would deliver $20 extra a week for those earning $52,000 a year or more.


For most of us the extra money in our pay packet would be less, reducing down to a few dollars a week for people on low incomes.

With National now in trouble of losing the election, which it must have thought impossible a month ago, maybe its strategy will change.

Will National now go for broke and offer more tax cuts to middle class voters to differentiate itself from a revitalised Labour?

It would be risky strategy though, as it could contribute to the perception that National's panicking.

And at this stage the mood in the electorate for more spending on health, education, housing and child poverty might be too far entrenched.

Tax cuts, no thanks, we'd like the next Government to fix some of these social problems thank you.

If that's the case, then National really is in trouble, because Labour under Jacinda Ardern has claimed that political space.

So for National Party strategists it's either continue as they're going and hope for Jacindamania to wear off, or seek a clearer point of difference through the promise of more tax cuts, as risky as that might be. Watch this space.

And what of Labour's strategy from here?

Just roll out Jacinda and cruise to election day without making a mistake?

Or has it got major campaign promises to come?

Those of us on the left are wondering if Labour might still announce a bigger increase in the minimum wage than the paltry 75 cents its currently offering (up to $16.50 an hour).

Many workers, young and old, would be grateful for an immediate and more substantial increase.

Even Winston Peters, ever on the lookout for a populist cause, has come out in support of a minimum wage of $20 an hour (perhaps he read my column from a few weeks ago).

A promise to substantially increase the minimum wage by Labour would undoubtedly come under attack from those wishing to defend the interests of business owners, potentially frightening off some middle class voters.

Where Labour goes on the minimum wage will tell us a great deal about the kind of Labour government Jacinda Ardern might lead.

I need to correct a mistake in last week's column, National raised benefit levels for people with dependent children in April 2016, not this year as I stated.

* Vaughan Gunson is a writer and poet interested in social justice and big issues facing the planet.