Jacinda Ardern's campaign strategy for Labour to govern right up to the election has hit a few snags, and it is making Winston Peters decidedly grumpy.
The main hitch is the concept itself, because Labour is not the Government.
Nothing gets approved by the Coalition Cabinet without the support of its two parties, Ardern's Labour and Winston Peters' New Zealand First, and no Government policy requiring approval by Parliament gets passed without the support of all three parties, Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens.
Even if there were agreement on every decision leading up to election day, it is a strategy that benefits only Labour.
Labour is perceived to be the Government, not New Zealand First.
And that is why the unfair impression has been left of New Zealand First scuppering a $100 million Government plan for the Southland economy after the smelter closes.
It was essentially a Labour proposal, not a New Zealand First plan or a Government plan, and it was predicated on the smelter closing.
And why should New Zealand First back a plan for a rescue package when it does not believe enough has yet been done to save the smelter.
Labour and New Zealand First have completely different starting points.
It is pretty clear from Labour's response that it is not unhappy at the prospect of the smelter closing and talks about post-Tiwai in terms of a "just transition", as it does with the ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration.
In his visit to Invercargill yesterday, Peters went with his own party promises on setting the cost of electricity in a 20-year deal as an enticement for the smelter to stay open.
Peters presented his case in Invercargill in both historic terms, and in terms of the possible wider implications on power prices on the rest of the country and, perhaps surprisingly for an economic nationalist, in terms of making New Zealand more attractive to foreign investment in industry.
It is possible Peters is too late and the Southland community is already resigned to the inevitability of the smelter's closure.
But there are clear differences within the Coalition that need to be explained to voters without an assumption that New Zealand First is "scuppering" for the sake of scuppering.
The same goes for light rail in Auckland. Peters has set out clear reasons for his party's opposition to the joint venture proposal involving the NZ Super Fund and Canada's CDPQ Infra – a proposal incidentally also opposed by the Green Party.
That issue has been placed on the backburner for whatever Government holds power after September 19 and Ardern, as Labour leader, will be expected to spell out her party's preference to Aucklanders during the campaign.
Ardern was forced to go to Invercargill empty-handed recently as the head of Government.
She will no doubt head back there during the election campaign with the same plan but dubbed a Labour plan, and that is as it should be.
This week, however, marked a turning point in Coalition relations as Peters used more extreme language and descriptions for his colleagues in Government.
Peters did not just present his own policy yesterday in Invercargill; he suggested others who had been to Invercargill recently had indulged in BS - bovine scatology.
He resorted to an extreme analogy in suggesting that a big lie about subsidised electricity had been perpetuated over the decades saying: "Remember the heinous Hitler comment 'if you're going to tell a lie, tell a big one – the people are more likely to believe it.'"
If relations in Government were not sufficiently strained before, they will be now.
Earlier in the week he described the past three years as the most difficult of his long political career because he had been surrounded by inexperience.
He said a Labour – Greens Government would be a nightmare, and that his party had opposed ideas that had come from "woke pixie dust."
This went well beyond the need for parties to differentiate at election time and into the realm of calculated insult.
Ardern blithely brushed it off as electioneering but Greens co-leader James Shaw decided he was no longer going to take Peters' increasing level of insults lying down.
He hit back, telling the Herald New Zealand First's organisational culture was "chaotic" and the party had not been a force for moderation but "a force for chaos".
Were it not for the sex scandals that consumed the political agenda this week, the Government would have never looked less together.
In actual fact, Peters, as well as saying they were the most difficult three years, also said he had been proud of them. Labour might wish Peters expressed more pride in his "difficult" three years in Government and less dissatisfaction.
But you can't campaign on pride, and even if he did, it would be more likely to pay off for Ardern than New Zealand First.
The survival of Peters' party depends on peeling off some of those voters who fled National during the Covid-19 health crisis for Ardern, or attracting back some of his own supporters who have deserted New Zealand First for Act.
The trouble for Peters is that the strong performance of Judith Collins as National leader means former National voters, who stuck with the party through most of Simon Bridges' unpopular leadership, are more likely to bypass him and head back to National.
As well as differentiating from Labour on policy, the intensity of the attacks on his colleagues in Government also suggests a certain willingness to consider alternatives.
Collins has not been unequivocal in ruling out New Zealand First as Bridges was. He made the decision in February and got the support of the caucus afterwards.
With Collins, she has delegated any change in the decision to the caucus, knowing full well that if governing were a possibility after the election, it would not be too much of a stretch for caucus to rethink its position on NZ First.
In the meantime, she simply suggests NZ First won't make it back.
While Ardern cannot afford the same luxury of saying that, after the strains of Coalition Government in the past week, it is a hope she probably shares.