There are 50 days to go, and it's all change. The disco balls shimmer with the light of Jacinda Ardern, the emergency leader of the Labour Party, replacing yeomanlike battler David, or was it John, or was it Andrew.

However desperate the motivation, the Ardern elevation set pulses racing. It is hard to remember the last time the press pack was so palpably smitten.

Actually it's easy to remember. It was last week, when Boris Johnson was in town. But the point is that a grey election campaign has flickered into life. The last-gasp Labour Party has thrown a glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner into the works.

And all the parties are now frantically reappraising campaign strategies. How do they win back the electoral oxygen? Will the feckless youth rise from their slumber? How to counter the coruscating new star?


Fortunately, your correspondent is very well connected, and as well as describing himself in the third person, he is regularly furnished with insider information from the very highest levels of inner-city carparking buildings.

Below, drawn from a selection of unnamed sources that whisper chillingly deep into the night, an insight into the new strategic thinking from our leading political operatives.

The National Party

Bloody hell. The insult branding unit has been up with the focus groups for days and the truth is they're struggling. Nothing close to the Angry Andy triumph yet. Jacindistinct? No. Blahcinda? No. Arden Up? No. Ja Rule? Too Eminemesque. The best we've got is Flakey Jacey, and that just sounds like a delicious tribute chocolate bar.

The Labour Party

Appear alongside Mark Richardson as much as possible. A charity cricket match. A special edition of The Block, building emergency housing out of discarded Andrew Little hoardings. Come to think of it, put Mark Richardson's face on the new billboards. For the slogan, a speech bubble from Jacinda: I Apologise for Being a Woman.

The Green Party

On the one hand the centre-left is suddenly the hottest ticket in town: a sparkling rags-to-riches musical. On the other hand sales are down at the fringe theatre showing a heart-wrenching one-woman monologue. The answer is obvious: acclaim the new co-leader of the Green Party, Jacinda Ardern. Tick Green for Jacinda.


The ACT Party

It's obvious when you think about it. David Seymour must confess to some terrible but relatable indiscretion, like running over a cat or secretly having a Canadian accent or literally being a string puppet controlled by Richard Prebble.

The New Zealand First Party

Jacinda Ardern is a problem. Not the policy, that's fart blossom, demonstrably. Not the single malt whisky appreciation, either. That simply reveals a deference to the great leader. No, the problem is the grin. This young woman is in possession of the only grin in New Zealand politics that comes close to challenging our own. This is the weapon of a political jedi. We must vanquish the grin.

National Party

Keep hammering home the messages. Show me the money. Brighter future. Angry Andy. Team Key. The core talking point: they may have a new leader, but what has Labour achieved in government over the last nine years?

Labour Party

Kelvin Davis henceforth to carry at all times a tankard of ale, an RSA hat, and a Sky remote.

The ACT Party

If the confession doesn't change everything, David Seymour must suddenly notice his party polling is lower than a Parnell cat's belly, and resign as leader.

Green Party

New tactic for explaining Metiria's benefit fraud. It wasn't so much a lie she told to Winz. It was truth-adjacent.

National Party

Delivering for New Zealand is not going down too great with the focus groups. The slogan left hardly any of them contemplating Bill's proficiency with pizza. One woman from Matamata drew a picture of the prime minister delivering Jacinda Ardern's baby, and we need to steer well clear of that.

Another guy from Palmy said it made him associate the National Party with hearing a knock on the door, and racing to open it, only to find a "sorry we missed you" card and a courier van screaming around the corner.

These times call for boldness but prudence, so we're thinking repurpose the tagline to Deliverance for New Zealand, with a picture of Bill playing a banjo and paddling a kayak.

Labour Party

Obviously the billboards need a new slogan. Ideally, we keep most of the letters from A Fresh Approach intact. A Leap of Faith is just about an anagram. A Flesh Wound? Or Absolutely Positively Morrinsville? What about a tribute to the previous talents of the shock thirtysomething winner of the presidential race in France, Emmanuel Macron? A French Approach.

NZ First

We must accuse her of a plot to Jacindarellarise the regions. And we must buy up all the toothpaste in Grey Lynn. And if none of that works, offer to cover the maternity leave.

TOP Party

She seems like a nice girl, Jackie Arden, a real trier. Invite her over for a nice cup of tea and a tutorial in evidence-based policy from New Zealand's greatest economist-adventurer. Almost certainly she'll adopt all of our policies. If not, let Sean Plunket go full Scaramucci.

United Future

Stick with common sense. People will come around. Maybe a DJ set at the Johnsonville mall. And a cape. Get a cape.

ACT Party

Following David Seymour's resignation, the ACT caucus holds a crisis meeting, at which David Seymour is unanimously elected as the new leader of the ACT party. Media goes berserk, Seymourmania, youthquake, etc.

National Party

Boldness. Bill may need to confess to running through fields of wheat. And how does he feel about ponytails?