Being a political leader vying to become the Prime Minister, or trying to retain the job, isn't all it's cracked up to be.

For starters you live in a goldfish bowl with your enemies always trying to find a crack, hoping to drain it and leave you lying belly up and gulping for air. The incumbent does have the upper hand, no matter what you say, he or she can gazump you with the stroke of a pen.

Think back to 2005 when Don Brash was giving Helen Clark a real run for her money. Labour's polling was telling it the election was going to be a close run thing, until Clark, out of the blue, managed to persuade her tight fisted Finance Minister Michael Cullen to loosen his grip on the surpluses and make student loans interest free. Brash was left gulping.

So this time Labour's beating the housing drum, playing to its constituents who don't and will probably never own a home, by getting at the fat cats that do. To an extent it's a politics of envy. Only trouble is to play that game you've got to be on firm ground and Andrew Little's example actually made him the envy of those struggling to get on to the home ownership ladder. It was right up there with Brash walking the plank during his campaign. For his example of how unaffordable housing has become, he harked back to his "starter" home on a Wellington hillside. That home under Labour rose much more, 81 percent, than it has under National, at 48 percent. Why this wasn't checked out before he used it as an example is beyond comprehension because his argument is now as deep as a puddle. The point that it illustrates is that housing affordability isn't a new phenomenon.


Curiously if you look at Bill English's declaration last week of what MPs own his house in Wellington wasn't declared which presumably means it's in his wife's name so he personally can't be accused of exploiting the market. House prices in Dipton aren't quite in the same league.

The political house building bidding war nevertheless continues with promises of a hundred thousand here compared to seventy thousand there. Trouble is you've got to have the labour to build them and with Little's promise to cut back immigration by tens of thousands, building scores of houses is easier said than done.

And with his promise this week to cut the tax dodges for landlords, rents are bound to rise making it even harder for those who are trying to scrape together an ever increasing deposit.

If you look at Tokyo, the city where English is at the moment, most live in apartments and home ownership in Japan is about where it was at its lowest point in God's Own. It's all about expectation and it's time they all got over creating a false one!

This is Barry Soper in Tokyo, courtesy of our national carrier Air New Zealand