Jacinda Ardern goes for vision as National grab the cheque book

CHRIS MCKEEN/Stuff.co.nz

Ardern in full effect at '17 Labour launch

OPINION: Day one and $10 billion down. National's answer to "Jacinda-mania" couldn't be more old fashioned - pull out the cheque book.

As a sea of red gathered outside the Auckland town hall to bask in the new found optimism and euphoria generated by new leader Jacinda Ardern, National leader Bill English was in the provinces spruiking a $10 billion spend up on provincial highways.

Ardern's speech steered clear of spending promises but was big on vision - including making climate change "the nuclear free" moment of this generation.

Jacinda Ardern speaks at Labour's campaign launch.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

Jacinda Ardern speaks at Labour's campaign launch.

Labour would not have known that National was planning to make a big roading announcement when Ardern wrote her speech. But the contrast could not have been more stark.

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The Auckland Town Hall was overflowing to watch Jacinda Ardern's campaign launch.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

The Auckland Town Hall was overflowing to watch Jacinda Ardern's campaign launch.

And while roads are always a winner with voters, reaching back into the same old bag of tricks risks making National look predictable and tired.

The other stark contrast of the day was Labour itself.

The Auckland town hall was filled to overflowing several times over;  the scene outside was chaotic as volunteers tried to squeeze the party faithful into one overflow room after another.

Jacinda Ardern pulls out the megaphone to speak to those who'd queued outside.
CHRIS MCKEEN/STUFF

Jacinda Ardern pulls out the megaphone to speak to those who'd queued outside.

The mood was further buoyed when former Labour leader Helen Clark was singled out in the audience; the moment when she and Ardern hugged was an image the grassroots could not get enough of.

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There has been nothing like Sunday's campaign launch since Clark left.

Last election it was almost too much of an effort to fill a school hall. .

Bill English on the campaign trail on day one.
JO MOIR/STUFF

Bill English on the campaign trail on day one.

Sunday's launch was something many of its younger members have never experienced.

National has the chance to reset the agenda again this week, however.

The books will be opened and will likely show there is room for a spend up on generous tax cuts.

Former Prime minister Helen Clark embraces Labour leader Jacinda Ardern during the launch.
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Former Prime minister Helen Clark embraces Labour leader Jacinda Ardern during the launch.

And National's campaign launch next week in Auckland will be every bit as euphoric and likely even bigger.

But it's been a very long time since Labour believed - nearly a decade in fact. 

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 - Stuff

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