by Tim Watkin

It seems the latest trend in minor party politics is political nudity, draped in just the merest hint of government

When MMP was young and new, coalition governments were the bright new thing that everyone wanted. Famously the 1996 agreement between National and New Zealand First was long and detailed.

Winston Peters has just moved his King to East Coast Bays and put Labour and the Greens' capital gains tax pawns under threat...proof that New Zealand First is still a player

With holidays over, party conferences held, and the final two weeks of this term's parliament commencing, the parties have just about all laid out their pieces for the campaign chess game ahead.

It feels good to pay for your child's education, says the columnist. Yes, and I already am, I reply

This morning John Roughan argued in the New Zealand Herald that Labour's policy to end voluntary school donations for most parents was "imaginative" but "a pity".

Mallard's moas and David Cunliffe's mangled apology are signs that Labour's still slipping off-message too often... and sometimes not even accidentally

Damage from within. David Cunliffe so close to getting it right, but still so wrong. And potentially strong and popular policy undermined by off-message gaffes...

My two cents on the sort of dramatic policy Labour will need to win over voters. Think interest-free student loans and go from there

Labour says tomorrow it'll be announcing a new education policy regarding schools. I have no idea what it is, but it's prompted me to quickly write this post that I've been meaning to write for months - what I'd announce if I was Labour looking for a circuit breaker.

The latest polls show that Colin Craig, Winston Peters and perhaps even the Maori Party have something in common... the need for Labour to do better

To rip off Jono and Ben, it sux to be David Cunliffe right now. He's got everything he fought so hard for in the leadership of the Labour Party, but has wasted the first phase of his time in charge. But he's not the only party leader on the 'sux to be' list right now. As we get closer to election day a whole lot of electoral ironies are appearing.

Sssh. Don't tell anyone, but Labour's actually building a coherent plan for running the country. Unfortunately for them, no-one can see past its repeated mis-steps

Pick your parable: from the Jews it's "Do not be wise in words — be wise in deeds". The Chinese say "talk doesn't cook rice".

A visitor from the Hawkes Bay, our very own Children's Commissioner, has just thrown a bomb into the middle of our debate on child poverty this election year... will anyone notice?

In case you missed it, the Children's Commissioner just got a little bit radical. No, go on then, quite a lot radical. The kind of radical that would have Paula Bennett spluttering into her weekend coffee.

Colin Craig has given up. Kind of. But by conceeding he can only win a seat with a deal, he's put the onus firmly on National and made John Key an offer the PM can hardly afford to refuse

Remember in the 2009 Mt Albert by-election when Melissa Lee said she was hoping to come second? She was roundly mocked and, presumably put straight by an advisor or senior colleague.

If you'll excuse the paraphrasing of Billy Bragg, it seems appropriate as the left leave the moral high ground for a bit of electoral mud-wrestling and coat-tailing. But at what cost?

Call it genius or hypocrisy, but the Mana Internet alliance, Laila Harre's decision to lead the Internet Party into this year's election and Kim Dotcom's record $3 million donation creates all sort of problems on the left of New Zealand politics. It also, to me, feels like something worth grieving no matter how the cards fall on September 20.