Kelvin Davis broke the spell, thank goodness.

The relentless diet of positivity from Labour's camp since Jacinda Ardern was elected leader has been entrancing for six days.

But at some point it had to get back to backstabbing politics as usual.

Davis delivered it. When appearing alongside Ardern on TVNZ's Q + A, her deputy unleashed a raft of insults against the National Cabinet ranging from gently mocking (Simon Bridges being the only person under 80 to use Brylcreem) to the downright nasty (Jonathan Coleman being described as Dr Death).


The negativity however turned out to be a brief interlude.

By 1pm the magic was back as Ardern held her first campaign rally at Wynyard Quarter to a sea of 400 in red and a chorus of adulation at full throttle.

It was not the kind of event at which Andrew Little had been planning to announce the party's Auckland transport policy. He had been planning an indoors speech.

But Labour will doing a lot more of this - re-working Little's campaign schedule to create visual manifestations of the Jacinda effect.

Nor was it exactly the policy he would have delivered.

Most of it was the same but Ardern added two important elements - bringing plans for light rail to the West and to the North Shore forward to the next 10 years.

All up, Labour's plan costs about $2 billion more than National's.

It was given to Phil Twyford to deliver to explain the regional petrol tax that will cost up to $5 a tank to help fund the policy.

Prime Minister Bill English announces new transport policy today at Papakura Train Station. Photo / Doug Sherring
Prime Minister Bill English announces new transport policy today at Papakura Train Station. Photo / Doug Sherring

And Steven Joyce again assumed the position of National's critic in chief.

Labour's rally was, by necessity, arranged at late notice, but not quite as late as National's at the Papakura railway station for a $267 million commuter network announcement.

With 250 there, it wasn't a bad turnout for a Prime Minister who has the personality of a rock, according to Kelvin Davis.

It was a shameless effort by National to try to grab some attention from the popular leader of the Opposition. But it didn't pay off. The enthusiasm looked less authentic.

English has been off the campaign stumps for many years and has done little in the past eight months as Prime Minister to get himself match fit. It showed.

Even with the support of local MP Judith Collins (whose withering stare can apparently melt the Antarctic ice-shelf) National looked like it was the underdog.