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The Nats’ succession problem

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, June 14th, 2012 - 58 comments
Categories: bill english, Hekia parata, john key, Judith Collins, national, Steven Joyce - Tags:

John Key’s days are numbered. His personal popularity is falling. His brand is tied to unpopular asset sales and a pokies for convention centre deal that is now subject to an Auditor-General investigation. He’s not winning the next election. So a change of leader is coming: pre-election or post. But who can succeed him? Parata? Collins? Joyce? They’re all shot.

Hekia Parata was the great hope of the English faction, the remnants of the Brat Pack (don’t think English has power? The guy’s Deputy PM and Finance Minister, every minister has had to turn to him for help at one time or another). She was also popular with the Boag Faction, the ones who only believe in getting a brand to sell. A strong Maori woman who rose to high levels from a poor beginning, she was right out of central casting.

Pity she’s useless. Parata’s notorious problems with keeping her staff turned out to be the first sign of a person promoted well above her skill level – as often happens with people who have the perfect ‘brand’. It wasn’t just that her education policy was the biggest slap in the face to the crucial mortgage belt voting bloc that National has delivered thus far. It was Parata’s complete inability to communicate and sell a difficult position under pressure. She’s proven she doesn’t have the right stuff.

Judith Collins has her own faction – the social conservatives. Although she’s got the strong woman brand, that whole Thatcher thing and likes to call herself Crusher although she still hasn’t crushed a single fucken car, Collins would never be electable. She has no economic credibility and her social conservatism is out of step with the country. Collins voted for Gordon Copeland’s Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill in 2005, which would have codified the law defining marriage as between a man and a woman and was heavily defeated (it’s so hilarious to see Cameron Slater, chief Collins Faction cheerleader, going on about how he is pro marriage equality at every opportunity he gets, trying to distract from Collins’ homophobia).

But Collins’ bigger problem is the ACC debacle. She was given that portfolio as a lark; she was menat to bring a steel to the privatisation reforms that Nick Smith had lacked (it’s typical of this government to think you can make something work just by putting a bully in charge – cf Brownlee in Christchurch). But, far from getting the Government’s agenda moving, Collins has completely lost control of events. National’s handpicked man to push through privatisation is gone (whether he was pushed or jumped is irrelevant). Collins’ people tried to spin that as her ‘crushing’ him. Yeah, crushing their own man, that makes sense. That spin fell over completely the CEO quit and it was revealed that ACC has spent $89,000 on outside spin doctors and polling to try to manage Collins’ mess . She is now a minister with a portfolio in disarray. The privatisation agenda is dead in the water and all the senior people National needed in place to make any progress are gone.

Just as Parata will forever be defined by the class sizes debacle, the implosion of ACC will stick to Collins for the rest of her career and kill her leadership ambitions.

And there’s still the question of who leaked the email that Michelle Boag sent to Collins. Her defamation suits will be the final nails in her coffin. She’s not going to win. No court in the land is going to give ministers the protection of defamation law against normal political criticism. And when she loses, the public will naturally conclude it is because she is the leaker.

What about Steven Joyce? Ideologically, he’s of Key’s ilk. Nah. He’s got a reputation well beyond his ability, built entirely on winning an unloseable election (having lost the previous unloseable election) and being in the right place at the right time in commercial radio. His record as a minister is piss-weak. He has delivered precisely nothing: ultrafast broadband has to be taken off him, tertiary is a shambles, roading is broke after splurging billions on useless vanity projects and economic development – what economic development? His big ideas for economic development are digging up more stuff and selling off the law for more pokies to get a convention centre that no-one would invest in on its own merits without a government kick-back.

Yesterday, he made a fool of himself trying to lecture Russel Norman on not picking winners while defending subisidies for oil, agriculture, and trucking. His tendency to make enemies quickly shows when he accused the powerful businesspeople, including Rob Fyfe and Stephen Tindall, behind Pure Advantage of only being out to get themselves subsidies. He doesn’t have the self-control or the likeability to get elected. He can’t even win an electorate and doesn’t try. Like Key, he has tied his personal brand to the pokies for convention centre deal that is about to get ripped apart by the Auditor-General.

Who can they turn to? Bill English? He’s as unelectable as ever. After him, you’re down to third tier nobodies. Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, or Paula Bennett? Get real. Bridges could do it some day – very much in the Key-style he can spin a line all day and looks the part – but he’s a long way from ready. The others just don’t have the chops. Being a minister is one thing, being a leader is quite another.

So, who can National find post-Key?

Maybe they’ll have to get out the lightening rods and try to revive Brash again.

58 comments on “The Nats’ succession problem ”

  1. Jim Nald 1

    Just six months out from the general elections and the PM is sounding quite pathetic defending the indefensible.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      Pretty galling that we could have a change of government today if we could have an election but, instead, the nats get two and a half more years to fuck things up. A pretty good argument against a four year term.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Nope, it’s a good argument for the power of recall. When it becomes obvious that the government is fucking up big time we need the power to fire them.

  2. tc 2

    Dunno about this Eddie, I reckon they will plunder the assets and probably sit in opposition dishevelled and requiring a rebuild similar to after blinglish in 02.

    Once the hollowmen have what they want, our assets, an employer biased market, gutted health, education and welfare with resources deployed where they want, they’ll not care what state the Nats are left in as the likes of key etc would be looked after.

    • Jim Nald 2.1

      Oh … and don’t forget this lot in government will make NZ pretty vulnerable to being sued by foreign powers or threatened by litigation that ties up our regulatory ability to protect or govern ourselves.

    • darkhorse 2.2

      why do we all forget that parliament has the ultimate power – if it wants to take  these public assets that have been stolen from us back it just needs to do so.  

      It would cost the economy less to compulsorily purchase them than it would to leave them in private ownership.  Everyone seems to forget that at present the owners are making 10%+ on capital – a re-acquisition would be self funding.

      And then government could go about managing these assets strategically for the betterment of the whole economy not for the few. 

       

  3. We live in strange times indeed when Paula Bennett looks relatively competent and thoughts of her being the next leader of the National Party are not dismissed out of hand …

    • Zetetic 3.1

      No, not Paula! She’ll pack the Supreme Court with boys!

    • lprent 3.2

      Or Ryall. Not exactly an outgoing personality but appears to be competent.

      Having a brand but with associated incompetence doesn’t seems be working for them long term. I suspect it is likely to have gained them another long period out of office as National have made themselves toxic to yet another generation of the young.

  4. Tom Gould 4

    Don’t right off Bennett so lightly, no pun intended. Her brand is strong with the core Tory vote. The down-to-earth poor girl made good thing works with them. She is as tough as Collins without the screw-ups and the uber-arrogance. She is close to Key. And the left have failed to land a single punch on her.

    • Enough is Enough 4.1

      I agree

      She is hero worshipped by many of the core righties. In their view she is the poster girl for what they stand for. It is all bullshit of course but there are a lot of Nats in behind her.

    • Campbell Larsen 4.2

      She was abysmal when she tried to show her ‘human’ side.

      Paula Bennett – Out Of Touch

      • fatty 4.2.1

        “She was abysmal when she tried to show her ‘human’ side.”

        sounds like a national leader to me

        • Frank Macskasy 4.2.1.1

          I concur; Bennett wouldn’t last very long in the “bear pit” that is Parliament. Dear Leader has already had to pull her well-padded arse out of a couple of political fires.

          My pick is either Joyce or Collins – but they’re as electable as that Human-Dalek hybrid, Don Brash.

          The Nats have simply had their turn with a “star” leader – just as Labour had Lange in the late ’80s (also for only two terms, I might remind folk).

          The next two or three terms belong to the centre-left, unless Labour does something incredibly stupid.

          It’s strength isn’t it’s leader (and I have no “favourites” on that issue) – it’s strength lies in the fact that after six years, most folk will have had a gutsful of the Nats will have been enough for most folk, and, NZers will finally recognise that this country desperately needs some major economic reforms (CGT, retirement, etc) and something more – a return to nation-building and rebuilding our social services.

          If events prove anything overseas (the election of France’s socialist government; the Occupy Movement; resistance in Greece and Spain), it’s that people are rising up against the neo-liberal establisment. Even the Middle Class now suspect that they’ve been conned.

          Notice how new-right governments don’t use the term “trickle down” anymore? That’s because the left has exposed it as the sham that it always was.

          The Right will fight back. Expect viciousness from certain factions.

          But the course of history rolls on, inexorably. The new right will be mostly irrelevant in a few years, and the concept of balance; a mixed economy; and an understanding of the necessary role of the State in our lives will be more clearly understood by most folk. (Insane RWNJs will join cultists like Area 51 Believers… though at least Area 51 is somewhat more “sexy” as a belief-system.)

          We live in interesting times. History is being written as we live and breathe…

  5. Dr Terry 5

    Tom, I would not leave it for you to pick a leader! Bennett has not the required intelligence, and her port-folio (along with a few others) is basically run by Key. And would you really would want someone “as tough as Collins”? You have to be kidding! Maybe they can turn to their much vaunted Mr John Banks (very adaptable, seemingly can get away with anything, could lead any old Party). Just give him a (private) cup of tea and all will be settled!

    • Tom Gould 5.1

      The left said similar things about Key, still do. But the only way they can shift him is to wait until he has had enough and throws in the towel. The public like what Bennett is doing. Intellectual arrogance and moral superiority will not win the left an election. However, Bennett’s pitch stands a good chance of getting them across the line.

      • Deano 5.1.1

        but a leader has to be credible across a range of issues. Bennett just isn’t up to it. She never has facts to hand, doesn’t have a grounding in economics or foreign affairs (every pm and opposition leader has had a background in at least one of those because they are core skills of a PM), and she doesn’t sound credible when she tries to cover lack of knowledge.

        You can get away with that when you’re handling a single portfolio where it is basically you making the play because the beneficiaries have no voice and the opposition doesn’t want to be seen as pro-bene. You can’t do it when you’re a leader and expected to be across everything.

        • Tom Gould 5.1.1.1

          You may be right. She may be more Sarah Palin than Hillary Clinton. But that doesn’t disqualify her from leading the National Party. Far from it.

          • Frank Macskasy 5.1.1.1.1

            Neither would Minnie Mouse, Tom.

            But it’s whether they’re electable or not that matters. Bennett simply isn’t up to the job. (In which case, all I can say is; go ahead – make my day!)

        • MAgnus McManus 5.1.1.2

          “a leader has to be credible across a range of issues”

          Key is credible only in finance and economics (the latter only barely).

          “Bennett just isn’t up to it. She never has facts to hand”

          Neither does Key.

          “and she doesn’t sound credible when she tries to cover lack of knowledge.”

          Neither does Key.

          “You can get away with that when you’re handling a single portfolio where it is basically you making the play because the beneficiaries have no voice and the opposition doesn’t want to be seen as pro-bene. You can’t do it when you’re a leader and expected to be across everything.”

          Key’s been doing it for nearly 3 and a half years.

  6. aj 6

    I watched Backbenchers last night and it looks like Goldsmith has the necessary qualities to be a leader for National 🙂

    • jaymam 6.1

      Goldsmith almost won Epsom while doing as little campaigning as possible. Imagine what he could do if he really tried.

  7. The perfect successor is David Schearer. He’ll be an ideologue implementing Agenda 21 with Russell Norman as his sidekick.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 7.1

      “…we are being programmed…world domination…”

      Deranged twaddle. I like “Agenda 21” though – “The Illuminatii” were so 19thC!

      Are they going to program you using HAARP, or what?

    • Carol 7.2

      Who is this Mr Schearer?

    • Deano 7.3

      OK, here’s what we’ve got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people — under the supervision of the reverse vampires —

      [lprent: It is easy to be a critic. After all any arsehole can do it. It is somewhat harder to actually make a point. Hard to see any actual point in this comment. Apart from noting you as a potential candidate for later testing in my ongoing program in how to induce a keyboard apoplexy.

      People who act like trolls or critics are the most fun for me to wind up like a old style watch to see how far I can go before the spring breaks. They usually like handing it out but fail to take it themselves. ]

      • Te Reo Putake 7.3.1

        I certainly got Deano’s point, LP. He was responding in kind to a vacuous comment from a right wing loon and did it in a rather humorous way. OK, I would have included a nod to our new insect overlords, but that might have been one Simpsons’ reference too many.
         
        The point is that Deano’s alternative story is just as sound as Ev’s. Both have no substance to them whatsoever, but at least one has some intelligence behind it. And some humour.

        [lprent: But you’re assessing that based on the context of Tev’s comment. When I’m moderating I don’t care about context because I don’t see it. I’m reading comments in reverse chronological order and usually I haven’t seen the the comment that they are replying to unless it was in the previous sweep. Even then, that would have been in the previous sweep hours before. So I look at each comment in isolation unless I make an effort to go to the actual post (which I avoid). As a matter of policy we ignore context..

        It is up to the person making the comment that is scathing of someone else’s comment as being rubbish to say why it is rubbish. Deano didn’t bother. He just jumped to being scathing without saying why because he considered it to be self-evident.

        When I see something like that I don’t bother much either. That is wanking gibbon troll who is so convinced that they have the only possible viewpoint on the world that they don’t bother to explain why it is self-evident – and invariably what they are assuming has never been examined. My first response is to ban them. I barely restrained myself when I looked at previous warnings by other moderators. The only reason he got off with a warning was because it was clear he was trying for humour. It was laborious, kind of hackneyed, and not that funny – like a troll attempting to be light-hearted about being a rascist.

        But the next time I notice him as a moderator for anything similar. He’ll get a couple of months ban and/or a tongue lashing. He appears to be lazy or has ignored previous warnings from several moderators or hasn’t read the policy.

        Incidentally, while you’re frequently scathing about Tev and her views, you invariably state why you think something that she says is rubbish. It is a small but crucial difference that makes all of the difference in the debate. ]

        • Te Reo Putake 7.3.1.1

          Cheers, LP, nicely explained. And if I haven’t mentioned it before, kudos to yourself and the other modding members of the Standard collective. It must be a drag trawling through all the comments and I appreciate the efforts you guys go through to make this NZ’s best political blog.

        • Vicky32 7.3.1.2

          while you’re frequently scathing about Tev and her views, you invariably state why you think something that she says is rubbish.

          All he ever says is that he believes she is right-wing, which given the heaps of crazy he dishes out quite regularly, makes me laugh. He’s the right-winger himself! One thing that seriously bothers me about the Standard, is that sheer foaming-at-the-mouth hatred seems to be the order of the day here. I am no particular advocate of TEV’s views – she has proven herself to be somewhat treacherous – but neverthless, I get so off-piste when he starts his rant about her being right-wing, purely because he accepts all the msm say about the things she writes about.

          • Te Reo Putake 7.3.1.2.1

            Ev is a birther, a truther and a climate change denialist. I have never seen any contribution from her that could be even remotely described as centrist, let alone left wing. I describe her politics as right wing because, er, they are right wing.
             
            And your social conservatism is on regular display here, V, though some might think that is balanced by your occasional leftist perspective on the miseries of the modern world, particularly as it applies to underemployed mature women in the Auckland ‘burbs. I have my doubts, however.

            • Vicky32 7.3.1.2.1.1

              V, though some might think that is balanced by your occasional leftist perspective on the miseries of the modern world, particularly as it applies to underemployed mature women in the Auckland ‘burbs. I have my doubts, however.

              Of course, you’re so almighty and so important, that you’re the one who gets to judge.
              Prat that you are, you’ve (possibly deliberately) failed to notice my comments on the miseries of war, and those who become refugees from war zones, the plight of minimum wage workers (especially those in fast food, rest homes and the poor sods who deliver pamphlets) – which leads me to another subject you’ve ignored my comments on – the rights and difficulties of people with disabilities.
              You sneer from your well off middle class home, at my ‘social conservatism’, because you’re so wrapped in identity politics, that you don’t see how my opposing abortion ties in with my anti-war, anti-capital punishment and disability rights views. Especially the last named).
              Te Prurient Prat should be your new name.

              • Vicky32

                Cant’ edit, so I will say here – your new name should be
                Te Righteous Prat 😀

          • lprent 7.3.1.2.2

            We make it pretty clear that we’re after a particular type of debate that isn’t particularly genteel and is quite robust. Raucous debate on the issues of the day where the bouncers are happy to throw out the truely obnoxious. In short, a type of political debate that used to be common before the mass media anthesised it and the mass parties disintegrated as people acquired new entertainments.

            The moderators are mainly concerned with making sure that it doesn’t get out of control and drop into a flamewar burning the comment section down to the lowest level. With a few exceptions like overt racism, sexism, and other articles of pure unthinking social discrimination we don’t really care what people think. We care if they are participating in the debate and doing it without dropping into respective mumbling of slogans or pointless abuse.

            TRP is dismissive of many peoples views and prefers his own, but he is always willing to read and share why. Just as you do.

            I’ve been reading around some of the other blogs recently as my time gradually frees up. Dimpost is probably the only other one that I find a comments section worth reading. Kiwiblog is somewhat repetitive. Public address is like getting wrapped in a fluffy warm middle NZ of genteelity.

            I prefer reading here

  8. ianmac 8

    Muldoon had a tough persona. Collins has a tough persona.
    Collins looks a lot like Muldoon.
    Therefore Collins would make a good Prime Minister.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 8.1

      Who next for National Party Leader?

      Beyond the obvious “who cares?” whoever it is only has to be a caretaker leader – they can always parachute in another smiley-wavy lightweight to take advantage of whatever fatigue/attrition afflicts the next government.

      If the party continues the slow-motion trainwreck we are currently witnessing, and especially if they come up with more far-right hare-brained stupidity, or John Key takes some serious hits from the AG, 2014 could be a rout. They desperately need new blood – anyone who still has confidence in the current lot must be living in a cave.

      And they have to ditch the failed ideology – get over it and move on. If National is supposed to be the party of business then let them create conditions that actually favour businesses instead of crashing the economy.

      I doubt they will though – the right-wing brain, once made up, doesn’t move that quickly.

      • Bemoan Riot 8.1.1

        “Beyond the obvious “who cares?” whoever it is only has to be a caretaker leader – they can always parachute in another smiley-wavy lightweight to take advantage of whatever fatigue/attrition afflicts the next government.”

        I truly believe this is the way they’ll go with all other comers completely unpalatable to the electorate.

        Think a Bridges/Kaye ticket with a pile of deadwood behind them sitting in Opposition for two terms.

  9. McFlock 9

    What? Why no mention of Tolley here? 🙂

  10. Kevin 10

    I think it is too early for anyone to write John Key off.He will be around another term at least and the Nats will be pushing hard for the Treasury benches in 2014, this will leave plenty of time for a successor to emerge barring a Shipley like coup from Judith Collins.
    Hekia Parata was in my view looking a likely candidate but may have damaged her chances over the teacher ratio backdown and may be out of the running. That leaves a two way stoush between Collins and Steven Joyce.

    • McFlock 10.1

      Writing Key off or not basically rests on one’s perception of him: he’ll stayy if he’s a committed, principled politician who wants to do the right thing by his country and party, until the honourable thing to do is step down.
               
      Alternatively, if he’s a political dilettante who was gifted the job on a plate because he was an amiable “gray man” upon whom the populace would project their own nice ideas (but only as long as he’s not connected directlywith specific policy programmes), the chances are good he will go before election 2014. What bling is he there fore? He doesn’t need the dosh. He’s met heads of state, including POTUS. He’s been on Letterman. He can probably wangle a taxpayer-funded DPS team for life. There’s a knighthood, but if he waits until losing an election Labour and the Greens might nuke the titular honours scheme once again – he’ll just be John Key, CNZOM (or what ever), at best.
              
      If he’s a Winston, he’ll stay until horses drag him away. If he’s a shallow playboy, he’ll ditch when the going gets boring. And he’s been looking pretty shirty lately.

  11. Fortran 11

    What is more important is on what policies will be put forward in 2014. They should be seriously considered as two and a half years will roll past very quickly. Stop just slagging Key – the electorate do not like personality politics.
    Equally seeking some sort of policy rapport with the Greens is critical to know, because Labour cannot govern without them.
    They have some radical ideas which will not find favour with Labour (or the electorate) and will have to be discussed at some length.
    The problem is that they will probably lie – anything for power.

  12. Pink postman 12

    Nobody has even mentioned the next Nat leader ,I have said before and Im getting more certain each day,Grosser is the silent slinking man waiting in the shadows. He can convince and he as Trade Minister is never associated with the mess up his mates are in . He is very Right-Wing but will get some support from Maori because of his Maori language belief.Watch him and remember the PP said it first,

    • BillODrees 12.1

      PP, oh PP, you shouldn’t have, you should not not have.  GROSSER!! Are you on P,PP? Or maybe you are cunning?  If they put forward Grosser they will do worse than the great English/Boag election in 2002. Reason?

      Failure at the polls: Cunliffe beat him by six thousand, even though Natz had a thousand more party votes than Labour. OK, Cunliffe is very popular in West Auckland, but Grosser did worse this time than before,  against the national trend.

      Flawed motivation for Political office: he retired from MFAT in his late fifties on a promise of a high list placing and an early elevation to Min of MFAT. Why? He was never going to make Secretary or a direct report role: so easier to be boss by becomming the Minister. (its a short man thing).

      Stature: he is short and has a little complex.

      Bottle tops: he throws them away.

      Alergy: he cannot stand the company of “ordinary” folk.  This little man would wretch at the thought of hugging a granny or kissing a baby in a shopping Mall. He would prefer to spend a month in a damp cell on his own than 30 minutes in Lynnmall.

      Mirror: he actually only talks to himself! Watch him! He loves the sound of his own voice.  He likes only talking to people of equal brilliance (and stature).

      Alergy to democracy: he wants all the baubles and trappings without the silly voting and election stuff. He hates electioneering: his few party workers in New Lynn have given up on him. 

      There are many more entertaining stories about this “complex” little man.  
      Maybe we do need a bit of entertainment. Yeah! GROSSER for National Party Leader. The Labour Party needs a break. 
       

       

      • Pink postman 12.1.1

        Bloody hell Bill?o you make him sound like Muldoon and look how they rushed to vote him in. sorry about the double s.

      • mickysavage 12.1.2

        Agree with every point you have made Billo.

        Groser has one redeeming feature though.  He is a human being.  Puts him way ahead of the others … 

  13. yeshe 13

    Collins just exposed on TV3 News as being rather less than truthful in the House this afternoon re ACC bosses and police complaint … this has some legs !!!!

  14. tracey 14

    Fortran, national voters dont like personality politics unless they are attacking a personality, its like people who say what you do have erased the attacks on the former pm and her husband from their minds

  15. tracey 15

    Fortran, national voters dont like personality politics unless they are attacking a personality, its like people who say what you do have erased the attacks on the former pm and her husband from their minds.

  16. captain hook 16

    Basically the National party gets a dollop of self interest when they are elected to impose severe cuts in the money supply and traditionally the wonkers in the labour party go haywire when the good times are rolling. Labour will need a sober government at the next election and they need to keep a firm hand on Nationals execesses now and make sure they dont get out of hand either. They need to let any prospective new owners know that they will roll back any attempts at private ownership of vital state assets. However that does not rule out the customers of state companies receiving a share offer comensurate with their contribution.
    Hey I’m thinking creatively.
    What can I do next?

  17. Blue 17

    My money’s on Joyce.

    Collins is callous and arrogant, Parata is arrogant and dumb, Bennett is just plain dumb, English has tried and spectacularly failed already, and none of the others are worth mentioning.

    Simon Power was probably the man for the job, but he got fed up and left.

    Joyce is the only option. Not as viable PM material, but enough to take National through their first term in Opposition at least, until they can get someone else.

  18. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (Tory troll) 18

    Any of you morons read the latest Roy Morgan poll out this morning?

    • Um National 46%, Labour plus greens 43.5% and the trends are all the right way.

      And the Nats have had as bad a couple of weeks as I have ever witnessed in NZ politics.

      Your point is? 

    • Colonial Viper 18.2

      Any of you morons read the latest Roy Morgan poll out this morning?

      Perhaps you mean this bit?

      The latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating is down 0.5 points to 110.5 (the lowest since John Key was elected in November 2008)

    • KJT 18.3

      Pity we do not apply truth in advertising laws to politics.

      If NACT had campaigned honestly, on cutting wages, gifting our assets to their funders, trashing our excellent education system and making most New Zealanders poorer, I doubt they would be polling so high.

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