In this election, Act leader David Seymour has cast himself in the role of the small boy in the folk tale The Emperor's New Clothes.
Seymour's version of Hans Christian Andersen's classic is called "The Emperor's Full Purse."
As other politicians parade their policy finery and flash glimpses of the insides of their purses, Seymour chirps from the sidelines "there is no money."
He is a solitary voice sounding the caution with his non-stop mantra of "stop the spending splurge".
National is campaigning on its record in fiscal management.
However, it is simultaneously hell-bent on proving Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was wrong when she claimed National would run an "austerity" regime and cut health and education spending.
That has seen National scramble its jets in the form of an education policy costing $1.9 billion, and health policy costing $800 million.
It is yet to do the Big Reveal on how it would meet its pledge to also pay down the debt required to fund these things. That will be in coming days.
Labour has put in an effort to say how it will pay for it: although the paltry $500m its new income tax rate would bring in was swallowed within days of being announced, by the $1b social welfare policy and $1.9b education policy.
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Seymour has taken particular exception to what he might consider fripperies: policies such as National's $30 million dental policy for children - a yearly free toothbrush, tube of toothpaste and a booklet for each child, and "supervised brushing".
Labour's $220 million promise to expand free lunches to 200,000 children in schools met with similar short shrift.
The promises offended Seymour as much for being "nanny state" as for being "nice to haves" and a waste of money when the purse was empty.
"Once Jacinda has fed the kids, and Judith has brushed their teeth, what's left for parents to do?"
National and Labour both know there will be a political cost for anything that even looks like austerity while Covid-19 still has the country in a neck-hold.
That has left room for Seymour to wade into National's turf.
Former finance minister Bill English banned what he called "nice to haves" to allow money to be put into policies that would grow the economy and reduce debt.
John Key dismissed some ideas as very nice but "in the end someone has to pay the bill - and there aren't little pixies at the bottom of the garden printing cash".
However that was in 2009 and this is now. There is a pixie printing cash – although it is in the Reserve Bank rather than the bottom of the garden. Alas, the monster printing the IOU notices is outpacing it.
Thus far, the gospel of "waste not, want not" has worked for Seymour.
As National's vote has ebbed, Act's has risen. NZ First's attempts to snare some too have thus far failed.
National has at least done voters the favour of tacking away from a campaign that was all about Covid-19.
It has recognised Covid-19 is not the only issue bedevilling voters: the usual everyday anxieties and worries still remain as well. That includes sore teeth and concerns about things such as crime.
Thus far, Labour's offerings have been extensions of work that was already under way.
It has also brought back some old measures such as expanding the Training Incentive Allowance to include higher-level courses such as university degrees again – at a cost of $100m a year.
It has also hired a skip bin to toss out some old policies that did not make it through the coalition talks after 2017 and were put into a cupboard to wait their turn.
If the emperor's purse did have money in, that time may well have been now. Instead the policy to extend the free fees scheme to a second and third tertiary year of study has hit the skip, as has its companion: Labour's 2017 promise to bring back a student allowance for post-graduate study.
The justification for scrapping them was that they were no longer affordable, or high priorities under Covid-19.
That is pretty much a convenient excuse to avoid having to admit the policies had not worked quite as envisaged, and were due for the scrapheap anyway.
That is not the only thing Covid-19 has proved a convenient excuse for.
It is proving to be a fine excuse for many of the usual campaign embarrassments.
Politicians who struggle to attract a large crowd can now look at the rows of empty seats before them, smite their brow and claim it was the distancing rules rather than their own lack of pulling power.