The most recent political poll was hardly glittering for the Government. But with State asset sales, the Dotcom debacle and Opposition-generated heat about the loss of jobs on the West Coast and Tiwai Point, the wonder has to be why the Government's support has held as high as it has.

Part of the answer lies with the continued poor showing of Labour leader, David Shearer, in the preferred Prime Minister stakes. Sadly for Shearer, his persistent lack of appeal with the public has its echo in his own caucus. What this will mean for his long overdue reshuffle of his front bench remains to be seen, but one thing is sure - his capacity to bring about any meaningful change is likely to be hobbled from the outset.

It's clear too that Labour needs to do something about its apparent lack of policy coherence. Doing a 'me too' on the Greens' idea of printing money (or, more politely, 'quantitative easing') doesn't instil confidence that they yet have what it takes to govern.

But neither should Key feel any complacency. His well reported GCSB "brain-fade" and the Labour-generated crisis on the national economy can and will continue to hurt.

The upside for National, however, is that absent any other high profile stuff ups they will get to put the counterfactual. Screams of crisis are hard to sustain with a reliably forecast 2.8% growth rate for 2012-13 and a less than 1% inflation rate. Well handled, this can be made to redound on Labour to its significant cost.

The proviso here, though, is that people have to be listening, and the clear message for National is that it must filter out the self-generated noise, and soon. 2014 will be too late.