No sooner had Winston Peters finished anointing Labour last night than commentators were beginning to talk about a successor to National leader Bill English.
That might make good copy but leadership speculation is not in National’s best interests.
Bill led the party to a historic level of 44.4% support – that’s nearly 8% higher than Labour got in this election and higher than Helen Clark ever got.
The ODT nails it:
National’s share of the vote was lower than in 2014, but English secured about 20,000 more votes than Key did in 2014. He held National up against a stronger onslaught from Labour than Key ever faced, and ensured that fourth term was at least well within its reach.
His fate was delivered by the whim of Peters – not the voters.
He’s earned the leadership and it will be better for the party if he keeps it, at least until the new government’s honeymoon is over. After that the choice of staying on as leader or not should be his, for his sake and the party’s.
Someone whose grasp of history is better than mine might contradict me, but I don’t think New Zealand has ever had an opposition this strong in numbers. The MPs also have a formidable breadth and depth of experience and skills.
National was strong, united and loyal to the leader in government, the caucus and wider party need to remain strong, united and loyal to the leader in opposition.
That’s an important part of the way back to government in the shortest possible time.