The problem with Sir John Key speaking at the National Party AGM is that he looks, sounds, and acts like a leader.
And all that does is shine a light on the lack of leadership - or any real cut through going on within the party currently.
Under Key the party was tight. It didn’t leak. It was a cohesive unit that held its ground.
These days it’s a shambles. And that was reflected in the vote.
When he pointed out the numbers - which is classic Key, he’s a numbers man - they were stark.
More than 400,000 National voters abandoned the party and went to Labour. More than 400,000 - that’s huge. That’s almost half a million people. How do you bleed that much support?
More importantly, how do you recover it?
And that’s the true test for the party. They have three years. Can they do it?
Well as John Key said, if they’re relying on voters to get sick of Jacinda Ardern, they’re dreaming. He pointed out that’s exactly what the Labour Party said about him for a whole decade. So banking on voters getting sick of Jacinda is a mistake. The party needs to work harder, be tighter, aim higher.
First and foremost, they simply have to stop the leaking. I’ve been saying this for months and every time I do I get feedback from listeners saying - 'oh get over it, it’s just a few leaks, it’s no big deal, no one cares'.
I beg to differ. It’s a huge deal. And more than 400,000 people care. Voters want a slick tight cohesive team. There needs to be strength and vision, not in-fighting and back stabbing.
Key said something at the weekend that should have been said months ago - if you can’t quit the leaking, quit the party.
I couldn't agree more, there should be zero tolerance for disloyalty, I don’t know what the leakers think they’re doing but it’s pathetic, self-serving and a huge own goal. Stamping out the leakers should have been the focus months ago - that’s the first crucial step in pulling the party together. The National party ignores the leak issue at its peril.
But to really steam ahead and pull back the lost voters, they’re going to need not just a rock solid party, but also rock solid leadership.
Judith is tough and strong, she fought a good fight, but what’s the succession plan? There doesn’t seem to be one right now. Whoever it is needs everyone rallied behind them - not a string of wannabes in their wake thinking they’d do a better job.
One good strong leader to anchor the party, a solid robust tight team with everyone behind that leader, a clear vision and determination to work hard.
None of that’s going to be easy, and I’d say that’s only just the beginning, of what National needs to do to rebuild.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
As the election closes in, there appears to be an overwhelming mood for change. New Zealanders have had enough. The chickens are coming home...
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