Who should take over the leadership of the National Party?
In the mix right now: Christopher Luxon, Simon Bridges, Mark Mitchell, Chris Bishop, and Shane Reti.
Shane Reti is not an option. He helped Judith Collins commit the murder-suicide on Simon Bridges on Wednesday night so he’s too tainted.
Chris Bishop is not an option yet. Too many people are still too angry with him for helping in the Muller coup. He’s doing great work so he’ll recover, but it’s too early.
Mark Mitchell is probably not a real option. This will be the third time he talks about running and probably the third time he doesn’t actually end up running. I suspect this is more of a strategy to get a promotion within the party than an actual leadership bid.
That leaves the two real contenders: Luxon and Bridges.
Bridges is a really good politician but I think he is too old-National now. He’s ended up getting splashed with too much of the dirt of the last few years: Jami-Lee Ross, the angry Covid stuff when he was leader, the Muller coup and now this attack from Collins. He doesn’t necessarily deserve it, but he’s just become the guy caught up in too much of it.
Which leaves Luxon. He is shiny and new. He represents a complete generational change in National. He’s got none of the mud sticking to him.
He’s risky though. Because he’s very inexperienced. He’s only been there a year. There is the risk that he bombs under pressure like Muller did.
But he’s also very smart. He’s studied politics for years, he’s been mentored by Sir John Key and he was working towards this anyway (it just came a bit early).
I think Luxon’s their guy. He's not a perfect option – none of them are – but he’s the best option.
Deputy’s important too, and that should go to Bridges. Forget worrying about choosing a woman or a liberal to balance his conservativism or a rural MP to balance that he’s from Auckland. The biggest problem the Nats have right now is that they’re fighting with each other. Putting Bridges in there is showing unity.
What’s more, as I said earlier, Bridges is a very good politician. His experience will go a long way to keeping Luxon away from the easy mistakes of inexperience.
So all things considered, probably a Luxon-Bridges ticket is their best bet. Can they give Labour a run for their money? Well, it feels more likely under Team Luxon than under Team Collins.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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