In an election campaign increasingly centring Winston Peters, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has made an arresting comparison between his party's plight and another Winston: Churchill.
During his campaign for re-election on October 14, Mr Hipkins found time to be a surprise guest on the Leading podcast, hosted by Tony Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, a former UK minister.
Asked why Kiwis were not giving his party more credit for its world-leading COVID-19 response, Mr Hipkins invoked the record of Britain's much-loved wartime leader.
"If I draw on an analogy from the UK going back several generations, Winston Churchill won the war and was deposed from office within a very short space of time after that," he said.
"Generally when populations have gone through a relatively traumatic experience like that there's a natural inclination to want to move on quite quickly.
"The campaign we're running now is very much focused on the future and it is based on moving on."
A new Newshub-Reid Research poll, out on Monday, shows the uphill battle Mr Hipkins faces.
His Labour Party recorded just 26.5 per cent support, steady from the last poll earlier in the month, compared with centre-right opposition National, on 39.1 per cent.
Just as damaging, for the first time in six years Labour no longer boasts the country's most popular leader.
National leader Chris Luxon rose to 24 per cent in the preferred prime minister stakes, with Mr Hipkins slipping 3.4 per cent to be the choice of just 19.1 per cent.
On the numbers, National and right-wing libertarians ACT would hit 60 seats in the 120-seat parliament, and could form a government with Mr Peters' NZ First, which would make the party kingmakers.
Both Mr Peters and Mr Hipkins have ruled out entering coalition negotiations with each other after the October 14 election.
After learning the poll result, Mr Hipkins went on the attack, saying a three-sided coalition between National, ACT and NZ First would produce a "right-wing circus".
Mr Peters said his party's return to the kingmaker position, which it used in 2017 to make Jacinda Ardern prime minister, came because Kiwis wanted "accountability and common sense and some experience back".
"And above all, they want someone to keep them honest," he said.
On the Leading podcast, recorded earlier in the month, the Labour leader insisted he could still win.
Labour has been buoyed by a boost from their coalition partners the Greens, which polled 14.2 per cent and would, on the numbers, return a record 18 MPs.
Mr Hipkins, a politician since 2008, is contesting his first election as party leader following Dame Jacinda's surprise exit in January.
"I've certainly been involved in campaigns where we know we were going to lose ... and I've been involved in campaigns where I was pretty sure we were going to win," he said.
"In terms of this election, it feels like neither of those things."
LATEST NZ POLITICAL POLL
National - 39 per cent (down 2)
Labour - 26.5 (steady)
Greens - 14 (up 2)
ACT - 9 (down 1)
NZ First - 5 (up 1)
Maori Party - 2 (steady)
TOP - 2 (up 1)
Australian Associated Press