1 Sep 2017

Leaders launch themselves back on campaign trail after debate

From Checkpoint, 5:14 pm on 1 September 2017

After a hard-fought showdown last night, the leaders of National and Labour have dusted themselves off and launched back on the campaign trail. 

The first leaders' debate came hot on the heels of a shock new poll which put Labour's party vote ahead of National's for the first time in more than a decade.

Neither National's Bill English nor Labour's Jacinda Ardern released any major new policy today, instead heading out to talk to students in Northland and Auckland.

If it was up to students at Auckland University to pick a winner in last night's debate, there would be a clear frontrunner, with Jacinda Ardern receiving a lot of praise for her performance.

Commentators have been calling it a closer affair however, with neither side landing a knock-out blow.

This was despite a release just one hour before the debate started of a new Colmar Brunton poll showing Labour overtaking National in the party vote for the first time in 12 years. 

Ms Ardern also went one point ahead of Mr English in the preferred prime minister stakes in the One News Colmar Brunton poll.

She said she was yet to watch the debate, but planned to spend a bit of time reviewing her performance before round two on Monday night.

"I will always be my harshest critic, and so probably just making sure that I get to the point a little bit more quickly, but that's probably something that politicans can all do." 

Her deputy may be having similar thoughts. Kelvin Davis floundered under questioning during a TV interview this morning, muddling the party's policy on a capital gains tax. 

Ms Ardern said she had since had a word to put him straight.

"I've certainly made clear to Kelvin that we've got to make sure that we're clear on the positions that we've taken. I've been entirely consistent and I'm sure he absolutely will be now too." 

Mr English was quick to capitalise on the capital gains tax confusion.

"I'm not suprised that he was confused, 'cause I think the Labour leader was pretty vague about it last night."

He spent the day further north, received a rousing welcome at Whangarei Boys' High - later announcing a major rebuild of the school.

But Mr English too was playing coy about who he thought came out on top last night.

"Voters decide about that. I enjoyed the debate, I thought it was a great, a good contest of ideas. Some pretty sharp contrasts there." 

With no definitive winner in their first showdown, both leaders will be taking every spare moment this weekend to brush up on their notes.

They'll face off again in Newshub's debate on Monday night.