By Andrew Dickens
I'd love not to talk about the bonkers election campaign that we're in, but it's pretty hard not to.
Like it or loathe it, it is dominating the news cycle. Three leaders abandoning ship just weeks before the election is unprecedented.
It's become a two-horse race with two choices: National or Labour. Status quo or a new direction.
The new direction stance is seductive because it's based on feelings. A feeling that things can be better, so let's give someone different a crack.
The question I've been asked by many people lately is "do you think Labour can win?".
The answer is they have a better chance than they've had for near enough a decade.
Labour and Jacinda Ardern might scrape into power as long as they don't speak about policy and keep the feeling of change rolling for another month.
I thought the "lipstick on a pig" controversy was manipulated magnificently by the left, keeping the focus on feelings and not facts. Gareth Morgan's message was vote on policies not personalities. Fair enough. But the debate became centred on the second part of his tweet, which was a mildly offensive mis-placed euphemism. Was the left really horrified by the phrase? Or were the howls of outrage just noise to cover Labour's Achilles heel of policy?
Yesterday in The PM Job Interview broadcast on nzherald.co.nz, Ardern kept well away from policy.
Capital gains tax? Let's form a working group. Again.
A republic? Let's start the conversation. Again.
TPP? Say whatever you want as the thing is in limbo. So let's make it about housing, not trade.
Immigration? She doesn't like to fixate on numbers and she assured business that they'd have the migrants their industry would need.
It was a masterclass in saying nothing at all, while seeming to be confident and ready to lead.
Remember, she has a degree in communications and PR, and she's pretty good at it.
Ardern realises the moment she confirms a policy the hyenas will be in to strip her bones.
She knows people are leery of her party and their fondness for tax, particularly when they use it to socially engineer, so let's kick it down the road and keep the conversation on feelings, not policy.
But tax will be today's conversation. The pre-election economic and fiscal update will be released by the government this morning.
The talk is the books are good and there's an extra $1 billion to $2 billion in the coffers than expected at the budget just three months ago. That means two choices going forward: a government can either spend more or tax less.
So watch this one carefully. National could either dole out money on stuff the growing country needs like roads, rail, houses, hospitals and schools. Or it could give you a little taxcut.
If they go for tax cuts, my call is they're feeling rattled by Ardern.
And watch Jacinda carefully. One day soon she'll have to stop talking about feelings and detail what Labour will actually do without conditions - and then it's game on.