I think this is the right move.
Bill has a proven record in elections. National knows what to expect with Bill.
With the advantage of incumbency and the authority that comes with it, Bill did very well in the last election. This will not be damaged at all by spending three years in the wilderness – he’ll be able to run with all the advantages of incumbency again next time.
This mood for generational change and the near universal acclaim for Labour’s charismatic young leader is of no electoral relevance. Elections are won on bread and butter issues that affect real New Zealanders, issues like housing and the health system, areas where National has done so well.
The realities of MMP can safely be ignored. From a strong base of 44% Bill English can lift National over 50% on its own. Reaching out to farmers and another round of dirty politics and personal attacks on other party leaders will definitely do it. National can govern alone, unencumbered by compromise and useless minor parties. As is their right. As is their destiny.
Stick with Bill English (because really – who else is there) and the 2020 election is all wrapped up for National.