The only Captain's call you'll hear from Jacinda Ardern to what she likes to call her team of five million in the upcoming campaign is to stay vigilant. And to abide by her latest catchcry: Say yes to the test.

Unlike the last campaign, there will be no flap with tax, no Ardern promise to introduce a capital gains tax, and forget the hundred thousand Kiwibuild homes, which they most certainly have forgotten.

This is the Covid campaign, confirmed by Ardern, with any policy flowing from that and little else. She knows she's hanging ten on the crest of the popularity wave because of it.


The grateful electorate see her as their saviour, to the extent that National is loath to even speak her name, let alone criticise her. One of the few times she's spoken of the Prime Minister, Judith Collins praised her as being an excellent communicator.

New Zealand hasn't had community spread of Covid for more than three months now, but we're still being told to wash our hands and to remain in a state of high alert.

As far as the election goes, the message from the Beehive is clear, don't expect any large-scale policies from Labour this campaign, there won't be the usual weighty manifesto. They're concentrating on fighting the scourge and planning for our recovery.

It's not dissimilar to the campaign run by the Lange Labour Government in 1987. In the run-up to that campaign the country was also in a state of shock, it had been dragged out of the Muldoon economic ice box with the promise from Roger Douglas of short-term pain for long-term gain.

The reform was radical, setting the country on an economic platform which has essentially never been changed. The call from the Beehive then was, Let us Finish the Business with little in the way of new policy for the electorate to contemplate.

It had certainly felt the pain but it was willing to stick with the reformers and easily returned Labour for a second term which under the old first past the post system saw it wining 57 seats to National's 40. Three years later it was an entirely different story. National thumped Labour with 67 seats to a miserable 29.

But then Labour was punished because Lange stopped for a cuppa, put a handbrake on the reforms, and the Government imploded.

There's little chance of the same thing happening with the current, tight-knit Labour crop which isn't nearly as innovative. But there is a very real chance, if Labour wins the Covid election, which on the face of it would be the most likely scenario, that the economy will be in such a parlous state in 2023, that Labour will again be severely punished.