Bill English won’t say who he wants as his successor – but there is a clear list of candidates who have emerged as front runners for the Opposition’s top job

Outgoing National Party leader Bill English is staying mum on who he wants to take up the mantle as party leader.  

“I’ll just have a vote, like everyone else in the process and I expect I might enjoy them coming to ask me for it, after years of having to go ask other people for their votes,” English chuckled, to a chorus of laughter from National MPs behind him on Tuesday morning.

Over the coming weeks, the news cycle will be dominated by National MPs vying for the Opposition’s top job.

Much will be going on behind closed doors – unlike Labour, National MPs choose their leader and there can be no doubt that the lobbying has already begun.

So, who are the front-runners?

Simon Bridges:

The Tauranga MP has been tipped by many to replace English. The former Crown Prosecutor held top portfolios in the previous National Led Government, including Labour, Economic Development, Transport, all while serving as Leader of the House.

In opposition he wasted little time familiarising himself with his new role, Shadow Leader of the House, embarrassing the Government over its lack of preparation when electing Speaker Trevor Mallard, forcing it to fork over more select committee seats to National.

He is a capable speaker in the House and his knowledge of the inner workings of government make him a formidable senior opposition member – and potentially leader.

Judith Collins:

Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins is one of National’s old guard, and one of its most experienced MPs. Entering Parliament in 2002, she served in Opposition for seven years before being part of the Government. ‘Crusher’ – the unofficial nickname given to her after her bill allowing boy racers' cars to be crushed – has a reputation for being tough and unrelenting.

These aspects would play well in opposition, where it’s critical for the leader to keep the Government under pressure and to make sure her caucus does not step out of line.

Amy Adams:

Adams is able to boast of one of the bluest seats in New Zealand. She has held Selwyn since 2008 and each election since has won it by a considerable margin. She was also seen as one of the most capable ministers in the previous National Government, presiding over the social investment portfolio as it underwent significant changes.

On the Opposition benches, she has taken the lead on one of National’s biggest campaigns against the Government around its new employment laws and is expected to keep up the pressure as the year continues to unfold.

Nikki Kaye:

Kaye has done something her party was not able to do last election – beat Jacinda Ardern.

In 2008, she won the Auckland Central seat for National for the first time in its history. She then retained it in 2011 and 2014, beating the now Prime Minister both times.

Much of her focus during her time in Parliament has been on education. She started by chairing the Education and Science Select Committee in 2011 then, two years later, was made Associate Minister of Education and was promoted to Education Minister in 2017.

Now National’s education spokeswoman, she has become a critical member of National’s front bench.

Steven Joyce:

The former Finance Minister was not talking about a potential run at the top job on Tuesday afternoon, telling reporters who asked about his ambitions that it was “Bill’s day.”

But speculation has been mounting that Joyce might want the job for himself. Joyce is English’s right-hand man – the numbers man for the numbers man. He has a deep understanding of the Party; he has chaired National' campaign committee for years and was National’s first general manager in the early 2000s.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

65 Comments

Gerry Brownlee, any one ?

Ah haaa haaaaaa haaaaaaa ........... Jumbo Gerry ! .... ha de haaaaaaaaaaaa ..... good one ... tee heeeee ....

what about nick smith, he has all the naked photos and knows where all the bodies are

Why not? At least it would be a plug for international obesity. And NZ would have it’s very own WMD! Bulldoze Dungers Brownlee, nice ring.

Hey, don't joke about Gerry. He'd be very likely to increase the caucus lunch budget if appointed as leader.

Er, aren't you likely to get into trouble with the Thought Police Twitters for saying nasty things about large people? I mean, they have feelings too, you know.

National will need a left field new face. Todd Muller. Ex Jim Bolger PM staffer, and Ag man. No baggage.

Amy Adams w Simon Bridges is the probability more likely.

up
12

Must be Paula Bennett, surely!

Who else better embodies the prevailing voter ethos of pulling the ladder up after oneself?

When you put it that way Rick - she's a perfect representative for that part of NZ's demographic.

Cruel Ricky
Paula Bennett is an icon among solo mothers in NZ

It looked a fairly bona fide list until I got down to Steven Joyce.

My guess is Bridges, Adams or Kaye. Kaye recently had breast cancer - I wonder if that would make her less likely to want it. I can't see Crusher or Joyce having much chance if National wants to re-invent itself.

Please not the Crusher, anyone but the Crusher.

It needs to be a woman and a contrasted style to Taxinda. The fact that so few lefties have suggested her is a tick as well. Go the Crusher.

Yeah but Crusher will alienate the middlers who are currently loving Jacinda.

Crusher is the stalking horse. She won't be there in 2020.

I agree. Her swansong, going out snarling and swinging.

Funnily enough, Julie Ann Genter suggested her for leader. Seems like a number on the left actually are keen on her because of her ethical issues and reputation. But if she's just in there to do the specific attack dog job and be replaced prior to the election, that's a different matter.

Question will be whether she's willing to only own that time, or whether her ambition will be to stick around.

Crusher ?
She wouldn’t last a day working here
She’s not tough
Merely brash
Nite nite kiwis

As for the dreadful “Judith Collins” contraption – she could well hold on to the already converted, but in terms of bringing in new supporters, not so sure.

Can’t see many Labour or Green voters swapping their respective hats for her, maybe some NZ Firsters could.

After their last MMP debacle the focus will surely be 50%+ - so not a job here for the “Judith Collins”.

As I have often said, and this is of course only my opinion I hasten to add, Collins would be the equivalent of a blunderbus in modern warfare

Probably not the best but she just reminds me of a loud, banging, clunky machine of poor design and function.

Every time “Judith Collins” comes up I literally read “Massey Ferguson”.

Terrible I know – it’s simply a disservice to Massey Ferguson, whose products are at least by design, quite elegant and perfectly functional.

The Ferguson and subsequent Massey Ferguson was actually designed by Ford and first appeared as such.

Ferguson supplied the then revolutionary 3 point hydraulic link mounting to the Ford - initially selling as a Ford Ferguson. Great little tractors and still going strong hauling boat trailers everywhere.

Truly wonderful – thank you so much for that insight.

Yes but in 60’s they did produce a 4 wheel drive almost Grand Prix car that Moss won something at Oulton Park? It also raced out here I think, Lady Wigram? Now there was before that Collins the Ferrari driver. So perhaps a connection but more likely not.

This little sub-forum is just so endearing – it really has made my evening.

The knowledge, the passion – you’ve made a motor sport enthusiast very happy.

And yes, perhaps a connection but more likely not – I’ll drop into the “more likely not” camp I think.

Again, wonderful little bits and bobs of knowledge – thank you.

I’m thinking more MOAB and the ‘B’ is open to interpretation. I don’t think Cindy is that strong emotionally and Crusher would have her measure very quickly. Down and dirty. Then replace her before the next election.

Maybe, don’t know if we’ve really seen Cindy publicly tested in that area.

Interesting thought – though if it back-fired you’d probably kiss the next election goodbye, and who would want to take the fall.

Interesting isn't it? We really do elect the leader as much as the party.

Crusher and Joyce are both Bruisers, not lovable but effective. Polarising personalities seem to do well in politics, at least some of the time (yes, I do mean Winston and, of course that other chap who looks a bit like an overgrown ferret), so who knows? They would be people who got things done, whether we liked it or not. They might need a rabble looking for a voice though, hard to see that as yet.

Amy and Nikki both seem competent and much more likeable, but are they aggressive enough? Bridges must have talents but they are hidden to me.

"Bridges must have talents but they are hidden to me."

“self-promotion” would be a stand out.

Always half pie thinking that if I see his feet they will be in spats.

Yes well visualised. Sort of identity likely to come in spurts and spats in fact.

National will lose support in the polls, that’s a given.

Without new policy National has some years to wait for another Key.

Adams could take Ardern on esay. She's good.

Too haughty

That's true. Senior political reporters easily get her back up, and she looks bad. Though she's good in parliament house.

They can ask Barnaby Joyce to join NZ National and become the new leader, after all he's an Ex-Kiwi, nominated for NZer of the year and knows how to get the job done without anyone noticing it!!!

One to watch is Matt King. He is a term or two away from getting there, but I have spent time close to him and he is smart, capable, honest (might count him out), energetic, and charismatic.

Is that the same Matt King that wrote the piece straight after the election claiming there had been a coup?.....If so, I can not for the life of me see how he'll EVER live that down.

Still reckon they need a cleanskin, with English resigning now though, they probably will need a filler innerer for a while till that person becomes ready (and known).

Only a new face, (with some signature polices) will set up the optics that the National Party have gone away and taken stock of the last election result and is now prepared to bever away for a few years and renew.

Eventually they will. But the Ardern effect has only just got started. Now she's rock solid. Peters is solidly by her side. This is his last play of the book.

In fact, it may be better that National go quite for a while, but they can't.

up
12

They've fallen straight into the bullshit that lost them the election. That is, prioritising political machinations and personal power plays, whilst just not bothering with doing the job they were elected and paid to do, which is governing for the benefit of New Zealanders. They're so wrapped up with party politicking and power games that they've forgotten all about the citizens again.

We will have a fill in until Nicola Willis takes over close to the next election, it will be the National version of the Jacida effect the Nicola effect ! If you don't know her here she is....

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/02/lloyd-burr-national-s-nex...

Please can it be Judith?

- Oravida

up
12

The simple fact is that none of National are suitable to be Prime Minister and as they all contributed their talents to achieve very little over their 9 years of deniability and prevarication over many, many issues including creating affordable and sensible Housing...a real rort. of monumental proportions...is the only polite way I can describe it.

Which for all their overpaid stipends, created little merit for New Zealand sadly. ..but lined their own pockets admirably.

Plus a few on this site., who are so likewise.............proud.

The simple fact is also that none of the Labour Party are suitable to be Prime Minister either.
They don’t have the necessary life skills or business acumen to run a country unless someone can state otherwise and why?
If so why do we need all these working groups and advisors etc?

Very good point THE MAN 2 Jacinda is their only weapon National are abit leaderless but Labour is floundering stalling for time

Sometimes we need to be reminded that Bill was a career politician of more years than most eh.

Crusher Collins to crush that Taxinda to bits.

All bark, no bite and wafting in the aroma of corruption.

True, she has her weaknesses alright. That Crushing Cars thing was shear brilliance though. Wonderfully effective if disgracefully authoritarian. Just the sort of leader The People choose when they are pissed off with an ineffective government and want someone who will Get Things Done. We may disapprove but that is how democracy works. Authoritarian leaders do seem to be the in thing around the world at the moment; US, Russia, Turkey, China, Saudi, India, the list goes on.

Wonderfully effective? I seem to recall it being all noise no teeth. Haven't there only been a handful of cars crushed, and the the first one was a joke, the boyracer got his car back, stripped all the good bits out of it then handed over the bare rusty shell to be crushed, and was back on the road a week or two later with a new car with all the good bits back in it.

I see the fact that very few cars were crushed as a wonderful thing. It means the judiciary have been able to temper the authoritarian and excessive penalty succesfully, and only use it when appropriate. I felt that the boy racer problem was a lot less after the first car got crushed, so it was a success. It certainly caught everyone's attention.

My main point was that, although Collins isn't the most likeable, she might be a good choice. You get Bossy Woman who Gets Things Done versus Caring Woman who doesn't. So you shift the goal posts to Getting Results rather than Saying The Right Things. It is politics, not marriage, we are talking about here.

Ah, "I felt" , the height of scientific accuracy.

Jacinda is not interested in being a prime Minister with her family starting.
She was thrown into the job as no one else was capable of leading or really wanting it but the rest is history nowmI suppose.
Floundering is probably a good word for what is going on as nothing constructive or beneficial for,the country has occurred unless someone can advise us otherwise

"Jacinda is not interested in being a prime Minister with her family starting.
She was thrown into the job as no one else was capable of leading or really wanting it but the rest is history nowmI suppose"

Oh really? You've been speaking to Jacinda about her personal and career ambitions lately? Or is this just more unsubstantiated drivel from you?

It is a relevant point. She will feel torn in two directions. These things are more powerful than the intellect expects.

Bill seemed to handle things OK bringing up six kids while he had senior positions in the National Party. Don't recall anyone bringing that up at the time.

Floundering is probably a good word for what is going on as nothing constructive or beneficial for this thread right now.

My tribute to Bill.
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156329423088338&id=596888337

May he be replaced by Nick Smith

Ahhh, the memories, Nick Smith, didn't he resign today.

"Regerts, I've had a few

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew"

On your way Nick, what on earth are you still doing here.

Bring Back Barclay!!!

The problem is that most of these contenders are tainted by being at the helm for 9 years and doing nothing constructive to improve the standard of living for the average NZer.
They are part of the team that advocated mass immigration and high house prices to artificially make NZers feel wealthier. They just played into Winston's hand.
I say National needs a fresh team at the top with new ideas if they want to topple Ardern at the next election.
Perhaps they should select a young female who is or wants to get pregnant in time for the next election. Gullible people would love 2 leaders with babies next time LOL!
This would keep Winston out.

I can see me not bothering to vote in the next election, seriously there is no inspiration from anyone across the whole political spectrum that makes you go WOW that person would be really great for New Zealand. The fact that there is no clear stand out obvious person to pick from National says it all, you get to pick the best of the worst.

Vote for a disrupter. Somebody like TOP, even if you don't necessarily agree with what they stand for. Getting a few new faces/parties in the govt to shake things up can't hurt. Not voting just encourages more of the same behaviour since the existing parties don't face the risk of losing seats if you don't vote.

Carlos67 ..pick the policy not the person. As Gareth Morgan said, put lipstick on a pig and you still have a pig. TOP offer some great policies. . But of course Gareth is not as charismatic as Jacinda.

Rubbish Jacinda is fantastic for NZ she is s Godsend.

If its not Bennet give it to Collins. Like someone said on here she is fitting to lead the National Party given her experience in corruption and Chinese sweet dealing.