- Date published:
11:10 am, January 31st, 2018 - 27 comments
Categories: bill english, national, Politics - Tags: judith collins, nat leadership, Nikki Kaye, political machinations, rolling leaders, simon bridges
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Since reading the news that the Nats are thinking about ditching Bill English, I’ve been trying to decide what my (completely honest and in no way disingenuous) advice to them would be on the topic. It’s a tough one! There are clearly pros and cons for them.
Starting with the cons:
Bill is experienced – Nobody in that caucus has seen more and done more in politics. He knows what works and what doesn’t work.
He’s moderate – His conservative vision for New Zealand is not one I share but it’s vastly preferable to some of his more ideologically libertarian colleagues. I suspect it’s more marketable to the public too. The vast bulk of National’s former Prime Ministers have been arch conservatives.
He’s got public sympathy – A lot of people think he was hard done by at the last election. That sympathy won’t transfer to a new leader.
They are doing well in the polls – Who rolls their leader when they have a comfortable lead in the polls? Has that ever happened in New Zealand apart from Key, who went voluntarily?
Rolling him could be messy – We all know what happens when parties have internal messiness, don’t we comrades?
There’s nobody better – Bridges is smarmy, Collins is abrasive, Bennett is too much with the cringe, Joyce can’t do maths, Amy who? Nikki Kaye may be their best option, but would she be perceived as Jacinda lite? Trying to out-Key Key didn’t work and we probably wouldn’t have wanted it to…
On the other hand, however, there are clearly some compelling Pros:
You can’t rest on your laurels – Sitting back, insisting they won the election and thinking of themselves as the government in exile is so born to rule Tory. Bill is coming across a little bit like a disapproving father admonishing a silly young whipper snapper government that can’t possibly do this or that because “I was your age once, you know”. It will tell in the polls before too long if they stay on that path.
They are doing well in the polls – It seems counterintuitive, but maybe it’s better to change leaders before your party’s popularity starts to go south. Key was clearly of that mindset. It’s arguably easier to continue a trend than turn one around.
Bill is a serial loser – And if there’s one thing we know about the Nats it’s that they don’t tolerate ‘losers’.
He’s soft – Maybe, as Chris Trotter alluded to this morning, in answer to Jacinda’s relentless positivity they need a Muldoon type (Collins) to cut her down with snark and nastiness. I hope that would backfire in a big way but as Brash showed when he was National leader, this country can be pretty vile when you scratch the surface.
He likes tinned spaghetti – Whether he puts it on a pizza or not and what he does with pineapple matters less to me. Speaking as an Italian, I don’t need any other reasons. With cultural insensitivity like that he’s got to go… …directly to The Hague without passing ‘Go’ and without collecting $200.
Speaking as a Labour Party supporter though, I think I prefer him right where he is.
But above all – who cares? It’s just luxurious sitting back and watching another party go through this and enjoying it as spectator sport for a change.
Long may it continue.