National are going to lose the next election. That presents a significant problem for Team Blue’s office holders and caucus. Do they hope against hope that John Key can pull off an Oracle style upset, or at least, like Rudd, keep the damage to a minimum? Or do they act now and replace their biggest asset in the hope that NZ will let them regroup for a return in 2017?
Admittedly, I know less about the inner workings of the National Party than John Key does about the NZLP. But what I do know is that there will not be a democratic process. The decision will be made by a couple of faceless suits and a few senior MP’s, just as it was with the knifings of Jim Bolger and Rodney Hide. Key has at least survived his extended overseas holiday with the Queen without a coup taking place, so he’ll be happy about that. He’ll be much less happy about the current polling, which suggests he is going to leave the post as a loser, one way or the other.
There are 3 contenders for the leadership. Key might stay on, but frankly, what’s in it for him? Then there’s Piggy Muldoon lookalike Steven Joyce, who is competent, efficient and deadly dull. He appeals to the dry right in caucus, safe pair of hands, understands the urgent need for Government to subsidise business etc. Then there’s Judith Collins, whose every utterance apparently acts as Viagra to Tory fanbois these days. However, her major difficulty is actually those charmless blurtings, which seem to be a form of political Tourette’s.
If Key resigns or is rolled this year, then National are also faced with an electoral problem. If they do what Gillard did after Rudd was deposed and call an early election, it risks being hamstrung by the Asset Theft referendum, which presumably would be done at the same time. And they have no answer on the question of housing, which is a crucial point for the middle ground that decides elections.
But if they wait till next year to dump DunnoKeyo, they risk being so far down in the polls that they again face the Bill English scenario, where their voters accept that the election is lost, and tactically vote NZ First so Labour can potentially form a coalition with Winston rather than the Greens.
As I like a punt, I’d rate Key’s chances of leading the Nats into the next election as 40/60 at best. If he stays, he’ll lose, but like Helen Clark, he can look forward to sustained public popularity in the retirement years. Though, unlike Clark, he won’t want to do any actual work. A few months on the beach, a couple of media appearances at AB’s games and a few untaxing board postings should see him through the twilight years.
Collins may be the best bet to replace him for name recognition reasons alone and there is a small chance she could make a decent fist of it against the odds and at least keep most of the current MP’s in a job. Though it’s lovely to see Chris Tremain see the writing on the walls of his numerous rental properties. We’re bringing in the CGT just for you Chris. Enjoy!
Joyce really hasn’t got a hope, unless it’s as a caretaker until Bennett or Bridges are deemed to be ready for office.
Of course, I may have forgotten a contender or two. Readers might care to put up their own likely lads if I’ve missed any of the potential captains of Team Blue. But whoever eventually gets appointed to lead National, three things are certain. Key’s a goneburger, National’s toast and the Hollow Men are bringing nothing to the table.
Te Reo Putake