Spare a thought for Paula Bennett. Looks like her political career is on the long slippery slope to oblivion.
And clearly there has been sabotaguing of Bill English’s leadership with leaked rumours from within National’s Caucus of his leadership being under threat being made on the day he was giving a major speech. The context is National’s loss of power. Nothing annoys them more. And knives are being sharpened for those who are perceived to have been responsible for poisoning the relationship with Winston Peters.
From Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom:
Several sources spoken to by Newsroom suggested some of the speculation was overblown, with no strong appetite for a change of leader in the coming months.
One source said there was still a high level of respect for English within the party, and he would be given the space to decide what he wanted to do.
Another said there were many in the party who were keen for him to hold the leadership through to the 2020 election, if that was what he wanted.
However, there appears to be a feeling that Bennett’s position is much less secure than English’s, with some media reporting she may be forced out of the deputy role.
She was seen as a poor performer during the campaign, and few within National now see her as the natural successor to English, despite his decision to support her elevation to the deputy’s role last December.
She returned to yesterday’s National caucus meeting in Parliament in a bright and breezy fashion after her gastric bypass, but may find herself under the pump at a two-day caucus meeting in Tauranga next week.
And from Tracy Watkins in Stuff:
Rumblings have started in National over its election loss and the knives are out for key figures in the outcome, including deputy Paula Bennett.
But with the party still polling above 40 per cent leader Bill English appears to be safe for now.
Jostling is already underway over a replacement should English step down, however. He had planned to retire from politics before John Key’s shock resignation thrust him into the leadership.
A senior National Party source said English commanded a lot of respect in the caucus and there would be a backlash against anyone who tried to roll him at this poi
He was seen as having earned the right to go gracefully, though the mood may change if the polls dropped.
But English is loyal to Bennett and may see any move against her as a move against him.
The source said an early move against Bennett could not be ruled out, however, as the party comes to terms with its defeat and the prospect of more than one term in Opposition.
The dominant line about English, that he continues to have respect and will be given the opportunity to go out on his own terms may be true but its publication causes significant damage to his leadership. I have seen this before, the drip drip drip of leaks causing conjecture about a leader causes damage and almost inevitably failure.
I almost feel sorry for English and Bennett. Almost …