Richard Harman writes:
What has been revealing this election campaign has been how much English is now starting to look like his own man.
He has spent nine years in the shadows behind John Key and since his own previous failed term as Leader he has tended to portray himself through a sort of awe shucks modesty.
That is going.
He’s proud of the way he has performed on the campaign, and he has surprised many of his own colleagues and supporters.
Nearly five weeks ago, at the start of the campaign, he was in Christchurch announcing Government funding for a new AMI stadium.
A number of Cabinet and party luminaries attended the announcement. His next stop was to be the Riccarton Mall, an idea that didn’t meet with much approval from the luminaries.
It was, said one, full of whingers who would give English a hard time.
They needn’t have worried. He dived into the mall, had endless selfies taken and engaged with children. He looked to be enjoying himself.
And over the weekend at a Rotorua amusement venue packed with families and children, we saw the same boyish enthusiasm which he seemed to get an equally enthusiastic response to.
I think Bill has been a great campaigner. He has been energised by it, and hasn’t put a foot wrong.
One thing that is interesting is that he has been comfortable going to lots of places where few people will be National supporters, such as the Riccarton Mall. He’s gone to union dominated workplaces, to Labour strongholds such as Wainuiomata etc. He knows he will get challenged by some voters there, but he is happy to take real engagement.
This has been a contrast to the Labour campaign which seems to be mainly about Labour organised events or campus visits. Haven’t seen a lot of them in small towns or rural areas where there is a risk of challenge.