National Party Logo in flames
National Party Logo in flames

Peter Williams: National Party in disarray

Peter Williams 25/06/2021

OPINION: Let’s talk about politics and in particular the National Party. And the big question - just what the hell is going on in the party that up until five years ago looked to be in an unassailable position to lead this country for years to come?

That position was of course a facade, a fallacy brought about by the personality and popularity of John Key. He went, and the party has never recovered. If Bill English had stayed, things might have been better but right now the party, which is 85 years old this year, is in an absolute unholy mess, and some people are even suggesting it’s terminal. 

The latest is New Zealand Herald columnist Matthew Hooton who’s suggesting the party is moving from intensive care to the hospice, and that a combination of ACT and New Zealand First will swoop in to claim the political right. And that scenario, as posted by a man who was working inside the National Party only a year ago, has been given some credibility of possibility this week by the bizarre circumstances surrounding the end of former leader Todd Muller’s political career. 

You might know the story by now. Nick Smith quits after 31 years, by the sounds of things because the leader Judith Collins tricked him into believing a scandalous story about his temper was about to become public. He was replaced by Judith’s mate, Harete Hipango - a conservative and from the religious right of the party. Todd Muller doesn’t like her, which is sort of odd because he’s from the conservative religious right too. He leaks some silly stories about Ms Hipango’s office furniture, Judith doesn’t like it, knows it was Muller, calls a late-night caucus meeting and forces Muller to quit or she will suspend him. 

On top of all that another of the conservative right Chris Penk, MP for Helensville - who took over from John Key, issued a tweet about Winston Peters being a sex addict because he f’d the country. Judith Collins had to put out that fire too. I mean, it’s kids stuff. 

This is supposed to be the main opposition political party at a time of utter incompetence from the Labour government on a myriad of fronts, and you have the National Party in disarray. How bad can it get? I know many of you have voted National over the years, I’ve voted National quite often too but not last year. But how can you take these guys seriously?

Is it best that they just fade away and let the political right be filled by some more sensible people? Is the return of Winston, and the possibility that a 34-year-old New Zealand First Party president might get some momentum for that party among younger voters, coupled with David Seymour and Brooke van Velden’s obvious abilities at the top of ACT, saying that the National Party is indeed, as Matthew Hooten has suggested, a terminal case?

What are you feeling about the National Party? Is it beyond redemption in its current form? Is there way too much internal bickering, too much jealousy, too many unchecked ambitions for it to ever be a coherent opposition again? 

Also, why is Todd Muller not resigning now and having a by-election in Bay of Plenty? What’s the point of him staying on for another two years as a lowly backbench opposition MP knowing full well that he’s not in it for the long term for either his party or his electorate?

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