It's widely recognised in politics that being the Leader of the Opposition is the worst job in the business.

Imagine how bad it is for Bill English with the whole Opposition being National except for the one Act MP. Imagine how he felt when the latest Colmar Brunton opinion poll came out showing National had, along with Labour, crept up two percentage points to put it on 46 compared with Labour's 39.

It had English lamenting the fact that almost half of the country's voters still have faith in National. It's clearly taking him a while to realise that almost isn't good enough to form a majority Government.

But this poll will give Labour no solace. Usually a new Government can expect a poll hike, this was more like a blip. The brief honeymoon is well and truly over for Labour, which will this week be put to the financial test.


In the coming days it will unravel National's taxation package. English irritatingly accuses it of cutting tax cuts when in fact the additional money from National wouldn't have kicked in until next April. It'll be replaced with a families package the earnest Jacinda Ardern irritatingly hopes will win cross-party support.

Later in the week Treasury will release its half-yearly economic and fiscal update, which will tell us whether the new Government is capable of doing its sums. And Grant Robertson will deliver his Budget Policy Statement, which will tell us whether he's up to delivering what will be Labour's little red book in around May of next year.

English is already telling Robertson he's not up to the job, saying Labour will run out of money to do the stuff it wants to and will embark on a borrowing programme, which is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. As the new Finance Minister, English embarked on an eye-watering borrowing programme himself, to cushion the effects of the global financial crisis.

The National leader won't have to worry about pulling the purse strings for a while though, unless he can find a potential coalition partner, and that's going to be no easy task. He's dismissed the idea of National sponsoring a minor party, even though it made overtures in the dying stages of the election campaign to The Opportunities Party, which politely declined.

Gareth Morgan, who's been catnapping since the election, could fill the gap. Over the next day or two he's expected to announce Top will be around for the next election and although Morgan will remain on board, he'll give up the leadership, essentially because the prospect of being in Parliament for him is about as attractive as a moggy running wild in his backyard.

Top managed to pull together 2.5 per cent of the vote last time, and if National was prepared to go soft in a seat for a Top candidate, who knows, the Treasury benches could once again be beckoning.