The blossoming of Jacinda Ardern as a political leader has been one of the features of the 2017 election campaign.

Her leadership over seven weeks has been transformational. She has turned the Labour Party into an acceptable alternative Government, even though little of substance changed between her and Andrew Little's policy agenda.

With a few exceptions, she has also changed the tone of debate, on the left at least, from one of aggression to respectful.

And if she doesn't lead the next Government - and she very well could - she has created hope on the left that that prospect is more a matter of "when" not "if".


Notwithstanding the misjudgment of an open-ended tax policy, which she had to abandon, she has given her party hope and confidence.

It has been a remarkable performance.

But National leader Bill English has undergone his own transformation during the campaign, away from the Jacinda Stardust as he dubbed it in the Weekend Herald.

It was during the early weeks of Ardern's surge in the polls, at a time when he must have wondered if the horrors of 2002 were about to revisit him.

After a clunky start, English eventually found his own rhythm on the campaign and derived some energy from it.

If he continues to lead the next Government - and he might not - it will almost certainly be quite different to the one he inherited from John Key.

He will have a stronger sense of urgency and command over the Government.

He will not be content with a chairman of the board style.

He will be more hands on because it will be his Government.

The campaign has given him a greater sense of his own political mortality and, if he survives, he is likely to have a greater sense of urgency to make progress on issues he had to confront on a daily basis such as child poverty levels.

And his own party will give him respect - something he only had as Finance Minister, not as Prime Minister.