Six months from now we'll be heaving headlong into the hurly burly of another election campaign. I'm excited. I want it to be clean, I want it to be policy driven, I really do, but is it so wrong to admit liking a little spark, a bit of a scuffle.

Is it so bad if from time to time the game gets brought into disrepute? In that spirit, and inspired by masterminds including Sun Tzu, Steve Bannon and the woman who invented Kiwi Onion Dip, here is some free and mostly very bad strategic advice for our political top guns.

For Bill English

Many questioned your decision against re-running the glories of Northland and Mt Roskill by keeping out of the byelection in Mt Albert, but the masterplan worked a treat.

Unburdened by inconveniences such as a National rival or a surname, Jacinda scored a landslide victory, a result that allowed Labour to bask in triumphant glory for several minutes, before facing a barrage of questions about a leadership crisis.


However, with Annette King having - completely, totally and unequivocally of her own volition - stepped aside to allow Jacinda to take the deputy spot, you will need to fight fire with fire. The deputy prime minister is to be immediately shorn - shorn! - of her surname. She is to DJ post-cabinet briefings and engage with important emerging young urban population bases in, for example, Morrinsville.

On the fresh water front, meanwhile, everything for Nick Smith is going swimmingly, as long as you redefine "swimming" to mean "roaring around a padded cell on a giant tricycle". It can only be a matter of time until he resolves the challenges of his other portfolio, too, by reclassifying drought-stricken rivers as emergency housing.

Following the success of Pest-Free 2050 and Swimmable 2040, consider nominating a range of further aspirational targets. Universal Jetpacks 2060. Colonise Australia 2070. Eternal Life for All 2080. That sort of thing.

Further congratulations are in order for the surprising response on immigration questions. In talking up the wholesomeness and work ethic of foreign workers in contrast to what you've heard about the questionable, petty-criminal, drug-addled attributes of homegrown New Zealanders, you may be the first political premier in modern history to face criticisms for fanning the flames of xenophilia. Whoever arranged for the whole thing to coincide with Ali Williams in Paris is a stone cold genius.

As we enter this brave new era of anecdote-based policy, meanwhile, let me share some of the talk I've heard: there is a gang of mouthy and powerful individuals who operate dangerous machinery at strange hours of the day and night. Many are said to be undertaking this sensitive toil well after dusk, half-cut from booze. And it is for this reason you should think about introducing breath-testing members of Parliament as they re-enter the debating chamber for the evening session.

For Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It is important that the opposition is led by someone who demonstrates backbone, a hard-nosed, steely appreciation of the importance of taking difficult, even personally painful decisions to reshape the top team, and so signal a readiness for office. Annette King has done just that, and this is why you should promote her immediately to leader of the Labour Party.

To lock in the votes of the "missing million" cohort of young, urban and culturally engaged New Zealanders who follow Jacinda on Snapchat, her election as deputy leader early next week should be prefaced by a string of cryptic teaser messages: unleash social media posts declaring J*****A, beam a "red light" across Herne Bay beaches and K Rd car parks, release video clips of J*****A enigmatically reading policy documents.

And when you announce her as the winner, start by reading out "La La Land", because that topical joke is never going to get tired.

One other thing, on the whole "Little denounces Maori Party for not being kaupapa Maori" storm. Not your finest moment, but there's an easy solution: apologise for being a Pakeha.


For Metiria Turei and James Shaw

Green Party MP and co-leader Metiria Turei. Photo / Dean Purcell
Green Party MP and co-leader Metiria Turei. Photo / Dean Purcell

While it is reassuring that your rigidly pro-diversity list selection rules will ensure you continue to provide a substantial parliamentary contingent of ageing white guys, a more pressing matter is the imminent elevation of Labour's young talisman Jacinda, who presents a stern challenge to your current command of tangata quinoa.

It may therefore be time to shake up the Green leadership, too. Add a third co-leader? All I'm saying is that the Whanganui River and Te Urewera country both have the legal status of persons. And what a leadership battle that would be.

For Winston Peters

Amazing to watch Donald Trump this week deliver a speech to Congress which literally included the announcement of a special new office for American victims of immigrant criminals and then be lavished with praise for a freshly presidential approach, an unseen gravitas, simply because he didn't lurch wildly off-script and mock disabled people or whatever.

Now, I'm not saying you're New Zealand's Donald Trump, or if you are then hallelujah, we won the global game of Trumpalikes, but my studied counsel - and this could go for pretty much any leader, really - is that you should definitely behave as inexplicably, offensively and creepily as you can now, so that when you wind it back, down the track, even just a little, you'll be hailed as a hero of moderation.

You know, like some unruly child arsonist getting a round of applause for having a great day because they only set the one puppy on fire.

For David Seymour
When the PM blamed bad New Zealand workers on drugs, you said don't blame the drugs, blame the teachers. But maybe all the teachers are on drugs, right? Try that.

For Peter Dunne
The key to victory, as always, is the Johnsonville Mall.

For Colin Craig and Kim Dotcom
Dream team. Think about it.

For Peter Thiel
Can you get us to those seven new Earth-like planets, bro?