Meet National’s leadership options

It is a shame to see National going through the same painful process that Labour went through after losing the 2008 election. Phil Goff took the poisoned chalice and became leader of the opposition, but he didn’t last long. Things spiralled downwards from there for Labour, until Andrew Little stepped aside for Jacinda Ardern. Labour still came second to National in the election, but it gave their support a boost that made them a possible coalition partner for Winston Peters, which was all they needed.

Just remember. If it hadn’t been for that, Bill English would still be prime minister. While some of you dislike Bill, he was competent, and we wouldn’t be spiralling downwards in every statistic, as we are now.

Matthew Hooton thinks that National still has some big problems with its leadership and that Simon Bridges, in spite of his low popularity, might keep the job for a while yet.

Simon Bridges still has a good chance of remaining Leader of the Opposition until the election.
This is not because National MPs support him but because they cannot agree on his successor. They know that if they roll him, the only credible replacement with the party and public right now is Judith Collins.

National MPs’ concerns about Collins range from the symbolic to the more substantial: namely, her right-wing “Crusher Collins” persona and a perception she has been too brutal with some of them on occasion.
The first is more myth than reality. Collins was typecast by John Key as a law and order conservative and carried out that role with aplomb.
But privately she is grateful to Bill English for taking her more seriously, giving the former commercial lawyer economic roles in revenue, energy and resources.

She is certainly no more right-wing than Bridges and much less so on social issues like gay marriage.
Complaints about her robust treatment of fellow MPs have more merit but she was among the most popular ministers in the previous government among staff and officials in the Beehive and bureaucracy.

A Newspaper.

Hooton then goes on to list the five other possible contenders for leadership of the National party… and, like Labour in 2011, none of them inspire much enthusiasm.

They are: (wait for it)

Paula Bennett

Amy Adams

Nicky Kaye

Todd Muller

Mark Mitchell

Every one of those gets a big fat zero from me anyway. At least Judith is registering in the preferred prime minister stakes. None of the others comes close.

I don’t know whether or not Judith Collins could win an election, but unfortunately, I doubt that Simon Bridges can. It is tough on Bridges, but he just doesn’t inspire voters, and the media, led by their crusader Tova O’Brien, has been so negative towards him since the Jami-Lee Ross saga that he hasn’t got a hope in hell anyway.

If the party is not prepared to take a risk and go for Judith, I think there are a number of younger members on the opposition benches that could make the public sit up and take notice, but that will not be before the 2020 election. Assuming that Bridges loses the next election, the gloves will be off and we may see someone like Paul Goldsmith come through the ranks and lead in 2023.

All of which seems a depressingly long way off, and will mean that the next National government will need decades to fix the damage to the country and the economy that Labour will have wrought by then.

So history repeats. Just like Labour in 2008, National simply don’t understand why they are not in government (and to be fair, they have more reason to wonder that than Labour did) and they seem to believe that the voters will come to their senses and vote them back in 2020 without them having to do anything but sit tight.

Let us hope it doesn’t take National as long as it took Labour to realise that, as far as election strategies go, this is not a particularly good one.