So what have the left got to smile about post-election? Well, not a lot if you look at social media. I saw a tweet on Saturday night from one Labour supporter that said "don't forget tonight to put your clocks forward three years." There is a lot of frustration, and lot of disappointment in the mood for change camp.

But let's just assume for a moment that National will form the backbone of the next government. What does that mean for those who voted for change?

Bill English and Steven Joyce both conceded over the weekend that on social policy issues they need to do more. They need to listen more. That's what this election has told them. Inequality, homelessness and child poverty are key issues for this country. They are complex social issues and not just issues that matter to the left.

And as I've said before on this programme, English is much more in tune than John Key ever was to issues that relate to poverty. His social investment approach is a good one. Instead of throwing money at the problem, they're investigating where they can get the best bang for their buck. Is it in early intervention, for example, and if so, where is the best place to up that spend? Reform is coming.


And what about other issues that New Zealanders said they want addressed? Look at some of the questions raised in the polls. Water pollution is one. There is also a push to reduce or restrict immigration in some way. Mental health is another big one as well. So too is the under-funding of the health sector. Increasingly, closing the gender pay gap has become a priority. And these are issues that Labour has campaigned hard on, and issues where National knows it needs to do more.

Bill English has grown in this campaign. It's been a tough one. Labour threw everything at him and in the wake of John Key, the election was English's to lose. Strong opposition ultimately made him stronger as well more accountable, more open to change, more open to listening to the country.

So, perhaps, if you're a left voter and you're looking for positives, then this is it. Your positive is Bill English. He is receptive to re-thinking his approach and re-thinking policy drug addiction, for example. Increasingly National is moving towards viewing that as a health issue, as opposed to an issue for justice and corrections to deal with.

If he retains the Prime Minister role, who knows what his legacy might be? But I'm picking it will be closely linked to addressing poverty and inequality, and that is perhaps a sweetener for those who voted for change.

It's a legacy that could change the way we live, and that's better than a multi-million dollar flag referendum that didn't benefit this country in any way at all.

Rachel Smalley hosts Early Edition on Newstalk ZB