Former frontman Simon Bridges has revealed he is considering returning to his post – saying National under Collins “hasn’t done a good enough job”.
One of the most entertaining moments on National Drama Day was watching MP Ian McKelvie as the party began to look like the Australian cricket team – a chain of captains dropping to
scandals and scams.
He will elect his next captain on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and must get it right.
The new captain will be decided on Tuesday (or negotiated before). They will have two years to revive the party.
The commotion began. On Friday afternoon, only one person was confirmed as a candidate: Simon Bridges.
It’s still unclear if Christopher Luxon will go for this – but it’s now more likely than it was last week.
There is a lot of pressure on him to do so from those who think he is the best chance to cut the party off his recent woes.
Many also assume that Luxon would win in a head-to-head vote against Bridges.
MEPs are in deep trouble – torn between Luxon’s “new broomstick” but his inexperience and Bridges’ experience but his baggage.
MPs judge Luxon on the back of a nod from John Key and the lack of track record to defend.
But don’t cancel Bridges’ chances just yet. When Bridges is at his best he is very good.
He’s good at spotting and hammering out government vulnerabilities. And that’s a crucial skill as the shiny begins to come off the job. Bridges is also a savvy activist when it comes to these things.
It will not be an easy decision for Luxon.
There was little benefit to him from running for management before this week’s debacles, and there are even fewer now.
Even though Luxon has managed to bring the polls down to respectable levels, if he cannot win in 2023, there is no guarantee that the next caucus will grant him another term.
It is for this reason that Luxon intended to wait in the first place – to let Bridges take the fall in 2023, but hope he managed to save the polls enough to place National well for a decent tilt in 2026. .
Now other MPs who see themselves as future prospects will be licking their lips hoping that Luxon’s turn ends after 2023 and they get their turn.
For this reason, Luxon may well continue to continue with plan A: take the financial portfolio, gain more experience and go later.
The ultimate goal of any leader is to be prime minister, not leader of the opposition.
The reason he would put that in jeopardy by going earlier than planned was that in the aftermath of Collins’ disappearance and his botched attempt to smear Bridges by tracing five-year-old comments back to his colleague Jacqui Dean, the Bridges’ worry was now too tarnished.
The initial shock wears off and the blow to Bridges wasn’t as bad as it first appeared – Bridges himself handled it well.
There are also big question marks hanging over Luxon. It is not yet clear what the public verdict is on him. MEPs also do not know if Luxon is still ready, just a year after starting his life as an MP.
We still do not know exactly what he represents and where he would like to take National.
So far, Luxon has used his inexperience to push back questions about his leadership ambitions, claiming he was just a beginner and had a lot to learn about how the party and parliament work. .
He would have to convince people that none of this mattered anymore.
Executives don’t have the luxury of being able to pull the rookie card or offer a “no comment” on sensitive issues. This is why other relatively new MPs who have become leaders have faltered.
Some have pointed out that Luxon’s history in business has given him many of the skills he will need as a leader. This is true in some ways. It also makes him a credible voice on economic issues, and that will be an asset over the next two years.
Luxon is comfortable in front of the cameras. But he has never been faced with the heat of protracted media scrums, with questions thrown at him on every subject.
He didn’t have to face a political storm, or deal with rogue, misbehaving, or fleeing MPs (yes, that’s a very different matter being a CEO dealing with staff. ).
In a business, he doesn’t have to be likable or get into televised debates against a rival.
Then again, neither Jacinda Ardern, Key, nor any leader before them have really been tested by the many challenges leaders face – although most have had more time than Luxon.
He might just be able to pull through. But no one knows for sure, including Luxon.
They know Bridges can handle this pressure. But they don’t know if the public will give Bridges a second chance.
It is also far from certain that some members of the caucus would give him a second chance. He could continue to be undermined by his former enemies if he were a leader, although that would decrease if Bridges upped the polls.
But Luxon has no old grievances. He would need a lot of support, and he’s not been around long enough to have a kitchen cabinet prepared ahead of time – the core group of MPs he knows he can count on for sound advice.
In a way, this is an advantage as it makes it easier to train your team without old loyalties and grudges getting in the way.
Whoever wins, Bridges and Luxon would be foolish not to hand the other over the financial role.
This would ensure both a skin in the game and a vested interest in making it a success.
The post of deputy would be less certain, and probably for a liberal like Erica Stanford or Nicola Willis.
There are other names among the potential leadership candidates, including Chris Bishop and, to a lesser extent, Nicola Willis.
These rumblings are about noise and tactics (or self-delusion). They know (or should know) that they don’t have the numbers to pull it off now.
It’s a bluffing tactic to try to get whoever comes first to deal with them in the new lineup. It is also a matter of positioning – to show the intention for the next task.
If the Luxon experiment happens and doesn’t work, it could well be 2023.
As for Judith Collins, the main concern about her now is that she will stay and undermine whoever is the new boss. This is much less likely to happen under a Luxon reign than under a Bridges reign.
But some have noted the delightful irony of this week’s events, in which Collins rolled herself around trying to get rid of Bridges.
After years of undermining other leaders, Collins developed such a habit that she ended up undermining herself.