Where Brown leads, expect Clark to follow

Start taking bets on how soon Labour will start using the 'novice' tag

Gordon Brown's big finale speech to the British Labour party conference offers a template for New Zealand Labour's approach to the election campaign here. As Toby Manhire reports today on Pundit, Brown's killer line was, "I'm all in favour of apprenticeships, but I can tell you this is no time for a novice."

Can't you hear Michael Cullen saying exactly the same thing? After eight years of constant growth, Cullen has to face this election with the word recession ringing in his ears. That much was confirmed by the Reserve Bank today. Unable to campaign on a happy and humming economy as it has done the past few elections, Labour will this time have to argue that it is the safe pair of hands in troubled times.

Labour can, and will, hammer National on experience. With jobs evaporating and less spending money in our pockets, they will ask, do you want the flashy new kid or the crew who you've known oh-so long? It's not a very sexy sale to make. Just ask the Republicans in America. The danger is that it becomes out-and-out fear-mongering. But if that 'novice' line doesn't appear in a Clark or Cullen speech soon, I'll be mighty surprised.