Regardless of what John Key says, his resignation has just opened next year's election race right up

The right time to go?

Really John?

Whatever the Prime Minister's protestations, the 'right time' to go would have been mid-way through his next term as Prime Minister, once the National Party had replenished its stocks at next year's election and a more obvious leader-in-waiting had been groomed.

As it is the Nats are likely to go - not least because John Key is recommending it - for Bill English as leader. Back to the future and all that.

It's unkind to say it, but it's also true. Bill English led the National Party to its worst election result.

In 2002 under his leadership the party mustered just under 21% of the vote. Helen Clark's Labour Party took over 41% that year.

I remember attending one of those expensive corporate seminars in 1992. One of the speakers was a then backbencher called Bill English. Confession time: I hadn't heard of him. Well, he spoke about the life of a backbencher and he was terrific. Wow, I thought: This guy is going to be Prime Minister. That's how good he was.

Somehow or other though, when it came to conveying the obvious warmth and ability that he had, English always came up short. And he was left horribly exposed in that 2002 campaign.

Maybe John Key is right. Maybe National is in a different place now. But the question would remain about English. Strong as he has been in the trusted lieutenant Finance Minister role, you've got to wonder if those old doubts will return.

I've seen English, as Finance Minister, front a few functions with business leaders - and in those forums he's terrific. He looks comfortable and in charge and reminds me a lot of the backbencher Bill English that made such an impression on me. But as for whether he can somehow put that image across to a wider audience - when he cataclysmically failed before, well that's going to be the question. I have my serious doubts.

The upshot is that from being a foregone conclusion, next year's election campaign is suddenly all-on.

To go back to Key's assertion that this was the right time to go. Well, no. Because the succession plan was not in place.

John Key's been a fantastically successful business person. And it was always clear that he would want to bow out of politics at the top and at a time when he was still young enough to go on and do more things in business.

There will be companies now salivating at the idea of having him as a director.

If it had always been Key's intention not to seek a fourth term, then logic would have suggested he step down perhaps a year ago. Personally I think you've got to believe that he had decided to go for a fourth term, with the idea of stepping down probably a year or 18 months into the next term. But then, for whatever reason, he changed his mind.

I'm sorry, I don't buy Key's argument that the party is in good shape in terms of its Parliamentary strength. You only have to see how media issues blow up and crises seem to happen whenever Key leaves the country. The fact is he is a very strong leader, surrounded in the most part by people who have only a fraction of his talent. He would not be easily replaced in any case, but National have seemingly not even properly got under way with steps to replace him.

An extra two years or more of Key at the helm would have given National the opportunity to more thoroughly get a succession plan in place. I find it difficult to imagine English being seen as more than a stop-gap.

So, wake up everybody. Next year's election suddenly got real interesting.

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He's always been good at reading the tea leaves. The night he won the last election he praised his pollster first and foremost. I reckon it's just a calculation that the optimum exit is no longer available - falling property prices and a sense that immigration settings are not right (see Herald story on students) hitting mainstream are the two pillars on which his success has been built. If he is forced to change tack, the whole house of cards could fall down on him. He's not a winner. He never had a long term view of New Zealand and what it should be. It was always about power and about him. He's a smart operator. He just knows when it's time to get his coat and bail out.



Agreed, as well. Plan A wasn't looking good. Time to switch to Plan B.


I think JK will be a huge loss for NZ. Worse, it almost guarantees a real MMP result with no clear majority and I dread the terrible cacophony of bickering at the beehive between Little, Winston, the Greens and whoever will be in charge of National. That will NOT be good for NZ


I disagree entirely. National have become complacent. It's fine to be hands off when the economy is strong and not facing any headwinds, but the headwinds facing NZ have been mounting and National have not addressed the issues.
A coalition might be chaos but at least the issues will be out in the open, instead of hidden behind the platitudes of charismatic leader.

Unfortunately John Key is / was the National Party - I'm more intrigued on why now....

"National faced no headwinds" you say Ginger ninja. Where have you been living ??? Ever heard of the GFC or the Chch earthquake ??? Just think before you post any nonsense

I whole heartedly agree with you. I think New Zealand really needs to over haul the MMP system, it is not working to the average New Zealander.


Key has pushed a rosy short term position.( as Mcbet has said). Reality is looming!


Not surprising Key will be looking to board positions in Asia - he has presided over the Asianisation of Auckland and has probably already been shoulder tapped by some large Chinese property developer. Will be absolutely disgusted if Judith Collins becomes leader given that she too is so pro migration

In my opinion, and I hasten to add it is only an opinion, Ms Collins would as appropriate as a blunderbus in the theatre of modern warfare.

I'd prefer somebody less corrupt. That's all I ask, really.

So absolutely anyone els then.


Maybe Key get job at Oravida with Judith Collins hubby.....
"Embarassingly for the Government it has been disclosed that Oravida has a contractual right to export hundreds of millions of dollars of fresh water at the annual price to the local authority of $500. John Key is relaxed about it but the optics are not good. Stone Shi and Julia Xu, directors of Oravida are members of Key’s current delegation to China. Judith Collins husband is also a director and the company regularly donates to the National Party."

Is that rotten fish I smell?

Bill English moved too early. National was in disarray stemming back to Bolger's complacency blowing an election that National should have won at a canter. That lead to the fiasco with NZ First. That led to Shipley. That led to nowhere but defeat. Labour was on too much of a roll, although Brash gave it a bit of a nudge after he took over from English. Believe the way Key modernised National, took them away from the old hat political style that Labour misguidedly still clings to, created an enviroment that suits all those attributes of English that you describe in the early part of your article. Even W Peters has praised his performance as finance minister.He has looked comfortable and competent. His time has come, perhaps a similar pathway to Howard in Australia. However will he do a Muldoon and hang onto finance? IF not who then?

The damage has been done to the NZ economy. Uncontrolled immigration gave us a sense of security with the immigrants paying more for houses than we could afford. We all felt rich with the crazy prices Chinese were paying for our houses.
John Key can see this "fools paradise" is about to fall over and he does not want anything to do with the fallout.

The middle NZ bloc determines election outcomes. Key's departure is a real blow but unless labour can pull some credible policy rabbits from the hat which catch the imagination of the middle over the next six months, JK and the gnats have probably already done enough to hang on to that group, bar some sort of meltdown such as the dear leader being unmasked as a closet wallabies supporter.
Thunderbirds go Andy is yet to get airborne, Winnie is still raging against the night, but increasingly wheezily. Key's polling will be telling him English ascending the throne will keep the contented middle class horses from being startled in the way a Joyce, Collins or Bridges might. Steady Bill as keeper of the gate until a new watch comes on is a sensible tactical decision.

Maybe - but I think Key's resignation will dent external and internal confidence in New Zealand Inc. It's just where is this all heading that is the problem.

Certain upcoming budget surplus announcements will tend to balance out any 'confidence drops'.

Lets wait and see....

so with BE in charge no Tax cut then?
will be a different budget, I expect to see debt reduction top of the list

Well well, the next election was there for the taking for the Nats. I'm surprised at the timing , and wonder if there's a lot more going on here than has been disclosed, so far. Bill English is effective in the finance role-but hardly an obvious leadership choice, especially after the calamity of 02!.

Will Steve Maharey return to politics and emerge as leader of the Labour Party? If Phil Goff can lie low for a few years until everyone has forgotten the previous Labour government and then reinvent himself as mayor of Auckland, then why not Steve Maharey as next leader of Labour and then PM after the election in 2017? You read it here first, at !

Goff thinks he is PM already, just like Len who?

I've heard the Maharey rumour a few times over the last few months.
I think he could be a very good labour leader.
But they need to change now or it will be too late.
Now or never.

Surely this will mess up Nicky Hager's next book. He always seams to bring out just before the election attacking the National leader.

Yes it's anyone's election now. National is/was a one-man-band, there's not much else in terms of inspirational leadership to fill the void.

John Key Quote 2007 :
"Tonight, Helen Clark should look in the bathroom mirror and ask: "What have I done for housing affordability in the past eight years?" She'll have answered before she's squeezed out the toothpaste. Nothing."

How ironic!

A great NZ PM once said "people don't want much, just Someone to love, Somewhere to live, Somewhere to work and Something to hope for."

No it wasn't the PM of Parnell - indeed for some of those JK has been just the opposite.

Like Clark, Key's ego is too large for his brain.
Like Clark he leaves a vacuum to fill with very little substance available to fill it.
How many of the cabinet actually deserve to be there? There was a few comments in the NZ Herald in the last week as to why Key got so much exposure. My conclusion would be that he could not depend on any of the ministers not to screw up even when they were specifically addressing their own portfolios.
Then apart from the truly incompetent ones, some like Collins are downright dangerous.
Interesting times.

"Regardless of what John Key says"
Well yes. The head and shoulders trading pattern as shown in the PM's popularity stakes -
would be recognized by any any FX dealer. The writing was on the chart for dear leader and he knew it. It was ski slope territory from here.

As for Casher Collins throwing her hat in I am sure if she makes it there will be a few Americans living in NZ upskiing back to Trump Land. Russians back to Putin, Syrian refugees back to Aleppo, Scots back to Glasgow - wait on she might sort out the immigration crisis and weaken the dollar - Go Judy.