The leader matters

By John

The debate about whether, when or if Judith Collins should become the leader of the National Party continues, particularly on Whaleoil. It is most important we have it because, if there is to be a change of leadership prior to the next election, Judith is the only logical candidate. There are many bright younger ones coming through who could be possibilities in the future but right now the discussion has to centre around Judith.

If you watch Judith in the debating chamber she has an entertaining and engaging manner with her delivery. It is usually a mixture of seriousness, humour and sarcasm. Either one of these come in varying amounts of dollop to suit the speech she is giving. This is not something which everyone can master easily but Judith has it down pat. Maybe it comes naturally to her. It is certainly an art that serves her well in the cut and thrust of the House.

Judith is intelligent and smart. You can argue about how she comes across in public but she has excellent communication skills. She would also have the wood on any of the despairing dross currently occupying the government benches. As a bonus, she is an expert on tax matters, something which is essential to a government’s economic policy.

So why the reluctance from some to see her as the leader now? Many views have been expressed by readers, most of them not without substance. Some think she is too brash or carries too much baggage. Others think it is too early, some saying it is best to let Simon take the fall at the next election. Being an optimist myself, I find that all those reasons carry negative connotations. The one thing National mustn’t do is go into the next election with a defeatist attitude. That is tantamount to handing Jacinda the election on a platter. Whatever the outcome of the election National has to contest it with its best chance of winning.

You can argue whether I’m being a realist or not and fair enough. For the record I normally am. However, realism only goes so far in politics. Anything can happen. Let me give you two examples, both in the UK. Nigel Farage in six weeks took a party from inception to winning nearly thirty seats in the EU Parliament in six weeks. A poll just released in the UK shows (and bear in mind the shambles the Conservatives are in) that if Boris Johnson was elected leader they would win a General Election in a landslide. Which proves nothing is certain in politics. It would be very interesting to have a similar poll here re Judith. Obviously, Brexit is the one big issue over there but what it shows is to get traction, which is what National desperately needs, the leader matters.

I’m not dying in a ditch over Judith, even though it might sound like it, but the danger of not going into the election with all guns blazing is that, according to either of the latest polls, the result could well be a Labour-Greens government. That is not a risk I am willing to take. Some took a risk at the last election voting NZ First and look how that turned out. This is an election where we must have all our ducks, Mallard excepted, in a row. The country cannot afford even three years of Labour-Green economic and socialist carnage. That is the probability of letting Simon take the fall. I suggest we all weigh up the various scenarios and see which we conclude presents the greatest inherent risk.

As Simon Burke said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”