It is almost incomprehensible that Helen Clark should choose "It's a matter of trust" as a slogan in the campaign leading up to next month's election.
Because the last quality any sane citizen would ascribe to politicians and political parties is trust.
The public began to lose trust in politicians from the moment Robert Muldoon became Prime Minister in 1975, replacing the absolutely trustworthy John Marshall, and the gap between politicians and the perception of trust has grown progressively wider ever since.
Nowadays, year after year the annual Reader's Digest survey of New Zealand's most trusted professions places politicians second-to-last out of 40, just above telemarketers and just below sex workers and car salesmen.
So why would Helen Clark choose trust as an election slogan? Not, I think, because she wants us to believe we can trust her and her gang, but because she wants us to think that we can't trust John Key and his gang.
I predict that Helen Clark's introduction of trust into the election campaign will backfire on her badly. For one thing, no voter trusts politicians, of any colour, and hasn't for decades.
For another, Labour has had nine years to prove just how untrustworthy it can be, whereas National, apart from John Key's stupid fumble over his Tranz Rail shares, has no record upon which to judge the trustworthiness of its leaders.
And, thirdly, while Labour seems determined to dwell in the past, National so far has resolutely avoided that and is determined to concentrate on the future.
Thus, the "trust equals Labour" idea, an oxymoron if there ever was one, is as irrelevant to this election campaign as Labour's attempt to stand on its record.
What people want is a change of government, and since trust won't enter into public thinking, change is what they will vote for. Which means that National will bolt in, as the polls consistently show, simply because it isn't Labour.
The other huge hypocrisy of Labour's campaign thus far is its accusations that National has a secret agenda. Coming from one whose party's secret agendas have changed the face of New Zealand society in the past nine years, that's really rich.
How about the introduction of civil unions with all the rights of marriage, the legalisation of prostitution and the anti-smacking legislation, all of which were forced through Parliament in the face of widespread and vociferous public opposition?
Then there's the odious Electoral Finance Act, devised and forced through Parliament by Clark and Co simply to stifle debate during this election campaign and give the ruling party an advantage.
And on top of all that is Helen Clark's unpardonable behaviour over the Winston Peters affair.
Alongside those betrayals of public trust, National's alleged (by Clark) inclination to sell off shares in several state assets including ACC, to put tolls on some roads and to borrow to fund infrastructure are insignificant and irrelevant.
Said Helen Clark when she announced the election date: "I think it does come down to who you trust on the basics." Well, if that is so, Labour is out on its ear.
In spite of vast extra spending, the health service is less effective than it was when Labour came to power in 1999; same goes for the education system, law and order and justice. As for defence, the most sacred of any government's responsibilities, the less said the better.
And what about fiscal stewardship? Who trusts a Finance Minister who robs the taxpayers blind of untold billions of dollars over eight years then, with an election looming, reluctantly offers insignificant tax cuts. According to figures published in this newspaper this week, even those who get the most from the cuts will receive barely enough to cover the increased cost of filling the tank of the family car.
Sure, I'm grateful for any increase in my pension, but that's more down to Mr Peters than it is to Michael Cullen.
Nevertheless, according to figures published lately, New Zealanders' living standards have dropped 24 per cent against Australians' in the term of this Labour-led Government.
So when it comes to the nation's finances, whom do you trust: an unregenerate socialist academic theoretician who believes the state knows best how to spend our money, or a man who has laboured in the top echelons of the finance industry, who is also a practical and successful Southland farmer and believes wholeheartedly in personal initiative and enterprise?
A matter of trust? I think not. Rather it is, as the Bible puts it, a matter of "By their deeds you shall know them".
However, since journalists, of whom I am one, score only five places higher than politicians on the Reader's Digest scale, perhaps you shouldn't trust what you have just read, and move on to some other untrustworthy item.