"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." - Oscar Wilde.

I've often wondered about the truth of that statement but it may prove to be accurate for Labour after the stunning turn of events over the past few days; events that saw the end of Andrew Little, and the anointing of Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as the new leader and deputy leader, respectively, of Labour.

In the never-ending contest to grab the headlines, the baton has now been passed from the Greens to Labour - for the time being. The question now remains as to whether it will make a substantive difference to the election result. The short answer, in my view, is no.

First, the positives. Although the timing has been lousy, perhaps one good thing to come of Labour's upheaval is that the party leadership has finally been determined in the way it always should have been - by caucus members - and not by the dubious mixture of unions/membership and caucus votes. One other sliver of silver lining is that - for the time being - we have certainty about who will be leading Labour's charge into the election.


Another positive side effect is that the change gives Labour's new leadership the chance, and justification, to re-examine and tweak the policies it is relying on to lead them to government. There is also a better chance that voters will actually be listening to what the new leadership has to say.

But ultimately, two fundamental questions face voters.

The first is deciding which party offers the best policies and solutions to build a better New Zealand. Perhaps that is an overly optimistic version of the question. A more honest phrasing of that question might be: "Which party's policies will most benefit ME?"

Regardless, the second and more vital question is: Which party has the team to actually deliver on its promises? Anyone can have a good idea. But it is the challenge of delivering on those campaign ideas and promises that will be the deciding factor on who people vote for.

The incumbent government will naturally have an advantage here. For National it is nine years of being in government. Assessments will vary but at around 45 per cent in the polls, you can't help but conclude that National have yet to alienate their base of support through some challenging times.

A Labour-led coalition will face more scrutiny on this one. And the really big question is whether Jacinda Ardern is ready to be Prime Minister of New Zealand. I'll happily leave that for others to chew over.

Because there is one fact in danger of being forgotten by some in the frenzied euphoria of a big news story. It was true before the change of leadership and it is true now.

There is just no way Labour and the Greens will be able to form a government without the support of Winston Peters and NZ First. I would struggle to see Peters credibly do such a deal, not without exacting a high price. Deputy PM? That would have to be his minimum price, surely. And if that is how it might look with Labour and the Greens, that's the strong likelihood with National as well.

It's like our very own House of Cards. Forget Netflix. Just catch the latest news bulletins for your fix of political drama.

So, this is the hurdle that Labour faces. Not just to prove they have the people, the stability and strength to be part of a viable coalition to run the country, but that their three-headed coalition would be a credible force in governing New Zealand. Stay tuned.


- Tim Beveridge is an overnight talkback host on Newstalk ZB