Key Points:

If actions speak louder than words, Labour was the winner on Day One of the official election campaign - game, set and match.

In the fight over which of the two major parties is best at running the economy, Labour scored a significant tactical victory.

National will be kicking itself. It should have seen what was coming.

With world financial markets in turmoil and pressure building on the Government to do something, it was inconceivable that Helen Clark would launch Labour's election campaign without promising some action in response to the international crisis.

Not to have responded would have laid Labour open to charges of fiddling while the world's stock markets are incinerating.

It was a different story last week. John Key was on the right track, filling the political vacuum left by Labour's apparent indifference and inaction. He ran hard with the line that "firm leadership" was required to reduce the effect of the recessionary tidal wave on New Zealanders.

But it turns out Labour was working flat-out to come up with a plan. It has picked up the economic management ball and is unlikely to drop it back in National's lap.

Before Clark spoke yesterday, National had already put itself on a hiding to nothing. Key's earlier speech at National's campaign opening in Auckland's SkyCity Convention Centre said nothing new on economic policy. In fact, it said nothing new about anything.

If that was not bad enough, Labour was getting ready to lay out something really meaty just a few blocks away in the Auckland Town Hall.

There, Helen Clark trumped Key by delivering the recovery package he had been demanding, including contingency plans to save jobs and the promise of a mini-budget in December.

The upshot was that Labour looked like it was governing; National looked complacent and flat-footed.

Labour is feverishly developing detailed plans in case the economy turns turtle; National has a five-point plan, which apart from its less-than-well-received tax policy, is in desperate need of being fleshed out in far more detail.

Key was right to trust his instincts last week. His mistake was to assume Labour was doing nothing. That mistake may prove costly.