In a sign of great bravery, Labour recently ventured back into perilous territory: the school tuck shop.
A couple of weeks ago, Education Minister Chris Hipkins (a Coke Zero fan) presented a target="_blank">proposal for a ban on fizzy drinks and fruit juice in schools. Only water and milk (or substitutes) were to be on the menu.
Way back in the dark ages of 2007, the then Labour government's attempt to stop schools selling pies came to be seen as emblematic of nanny state tendencies.
New rules specified that pies, along with other inventions of the devil, must not be sold on school premises and would be categorised as "occasional" foods which could only be eaten once a term.
Labour's attempts to deny it was a pie ban fell on deaf ears. Explaining is losing.
Since then, the appropriately acronym-ed NAGs (national administration guidelines) have "guided" schools to promote healthy options and good nutrition. Schools have made their own decisions about how far to go.
Labour now wants to make that a requirement rather than a guideline - and to introduce a rule for schools to offer only healthy drinks only (water, milk and non-dairy milks). It won't use the word ban, but it will be a ban on sugar and spice and all things nice. No fruit juice or fizzy drinks would be countenanced.
As a sign of how wary the 2007 pie ban episode has made Labour, there will be more consultation on whether to ban sugary drinks in schools than there was about Covid-19 vaccine mandates. It is starting with primary schools, but also wants to consider secondary schools. And the papers show eventually it also wants to bring back the pie ban: it is proposing banning unhealthy foods, but the process of categorising food is considered too complicated to do in a hurry.
Since 2007, Covid-19 has delivered us measures that could be seen as nanny state on steroids: the entire country was ordered to stay at home, close their businesses, wear masks, not hang out with too many people. We did it to save lives.
Perhaps Labour is now betting that will mean the more constrained edicts of banning soft drinks to save childrens' teeth are more acceptable by comparison.
There is a risk of the reverse: that people will resent state intrusion into their choices, no matter how well-intentioned, even more as a result of Covid-19.
The public health reasons behind it remain as sound as they were before: obesity and dental problems. But a kid can go to a dairy and buy a soft drink if the tuck shop does not provide. Many schools have also already removed fizzy drinks of their own accord.
Whether a ban would make a difference is nebulous, so why is Labour bothering?
Act was quick to call out it out as a nanny state measure. National's Nicola Willis said schools didn't need a black and white ban, and pointed out it would be a ridiculous if an edict from Wellington ended up banning Fanta from a school disco, for example.
The biggest risk to Labour is the same as it was in 2007: that the Government starts to be perceived as focusing on the minutiae rather than the bigger priorities confronting the country.
That is now the ability of parents to buy healthy food to start with, given rampant inflation.
It is perhaps an irony that soft drinks have so far proved among the more inflation-resistant consumables.
However, the return of attention to such matters was something like the first signs of a political spring after two years of almost unrelenting focus on the other big issue: Covid-19.
Normal politics was back in all its magnificent, inane and mundane glory.
The other sign of this post-Covid spring was in people making a federal case out of the various mis-speaks and gaffes of MPs.
For two years, MPs have been able to get away with saying stupid things because Covid-19 was more important that dissecting stupid utterances. This week, National's Christopher Luxon got a drubbing over tangling himself up on public transport issues, while Labour's Chris Hipkins turned up to announce the dawn of the orange era - and forgot the mask rules for it,
Then there was the other vigorous sign of spring, the sprouting of that perennial feature of politics: Winston Peters.
After a long period of silence and a visit to the protest at Parliament, Peters is now chronicling his verdicts on political events on Twitter, Julius Caesar of Whananaki delivering a thumbs up or thumbs down to the gladiators still in the circus.
His best effort was also his most inexplicable. "Someone keeps saying things like…Kindness. Transparency. Hugs. Progressiveness. Inclusiveness. Fairy dust… I know big words too like "wheelbarrow".
Labour and the PM have been the most frequent recipients of the thumbs down - and his positions align with those of National. He has lambasted them for Covid decisions, going "soft on crime" and over inflation. On crime, he tweeted "Auckland central is slowly turning into the Mad Max with gangs and thugs doing as they please." On inflation he tweeted that the Government had to stop coming up with excuses for it, and get on with doing something about it.
Someone keeps saying things like…Kindness. Transparency. Hugs. Progressiveness. Inclusiveness. Fairy dust…— Winston Peters (@winstonpeters) April 6, 2022
I know big words too like “wheelbarrow”.
It appears to be something of a ritual cleansing by Peters to try to scrub off the taint of having had to take a side in 2017 and choosing Labour.
Peters clearly wants to re-cast NZ First as a genuine non-allied party, and re-start that old guessing game of whether he will choose National or Labour in future.
Whether the voters will buy it is doubtful and the first test of that could be in the Tauranga byelection. NZ First is weighing up whether to enter the byelection. Entering would secure Peters more media attention to continue his re-build.
Peters will know he has a near-zero chance of winning the seat.
There will not be any quiet nod from Labour for its supporters to vote for Peters, as there was in the Northland byelection.
In 2020, National's vote shrank under Labour's tsunami of popularity, but that tsunami has now abated.
For the first time in a long time, National voters again have a leader they think might get them somewhere. And they won't want Winston getting in the way: National voters are still angry with him for picking Ardern in 2017 and will not trust him not to do it again.
They will remind him of that wherever he goes.