The latest One News / Colmar Brunton poll was published by TVNZ on Sunday night. The results are as follows, with the brackets showing the results from the August, July and May results:
Lab - 39% (36, 36, 31)
Nat - 49% (53, 52, 56)
Grn - 5% (5, 5, 6)
NZF - 3% (2.6, 2.3, 2.1)
MP - 3% (1.0, 2.6, 2.9)
UF - 1% (0.5, 0.6, 1)
ACT - 1% (1.2, 0.3, 0.4)
The Preferred Prime Minister numbers are as follows:
Helen Clark - 33% (29, 29, 27)
John Key - 31% (35, 35, 38)
Winston Peters - 4% (4, 2, 2)
One News explains this change, which is an improvement for Labour, in the context of high visibility for Helen Clark on international issues, and the impact of the scrutiny which Labour applied to John Key.
I think they are probably right. When you look at this lineup, you do see a shift that will be welcomed by the government. It has the left Lab-Grn bloc on 44% support, and the right bloc on 51% (Nat, UF, Act). I have left NZF and the Maori Party out of that left-right bloc measure for two reasons. First it is not clear that NZF will return to parliament post election, though on past form they may well scrape back in. Second, while in the past I have categorised the Maori Party as a right conservative party, I do think these days that that has more to do with Tariana Turia's poisoned relationship with Labour than anything else. The party has developed an impressive depth quickly, and I think eventually it will end up in the centre left family.
If that was the case - if NZF didn't return and if the Maori Party ends up supporting Labour-led administrations - then the left-right split is 47/51.
In other words, very close indeed. The last few election campaigns have shown how volatile campaigns can be, and how parties with large and sustained poll leads through popular leaders can make mistakes such that they lose a good 15 points during a campaign.
History never repeats, so to speak, but consider the government's agenda. Major meat on the bones of climate change policy is coming up this week, according to media. There will be a reshuffle, which I hope will be extensive enough to show some fresh faces on the front bench. There will be a Labour Party conference in the weeks after that. The PM will be visible on a few international trips.
Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a bigger glimmer of light for Labour than for some months. I would not want to overstate the case, but from where I am sitting now, this poll is OK news.