Garner on National’s next leader

Duncan Garner writes and looks at how might replace John Key next term:


She’s emerged from the Collins rubble to be the frontrunner. She’s handled everything Labour has thrown at her and sent it back with interest.

She’s ordinary, common, basic and will never been confused as a Rhodes scholar. Key recognises her political talent and is broadening her appeal. She’s done the welfare stuff but Key later added local government and state services portfolios – and now the dreaded climate change to her list of responsibilities. My sources tell me she wants the job and there’s no love lost between her and Collins. She’s starting to spend more time with National’s more junior MPs to win them over. Bennett’s now first cab off the rank to replace Key as National’s next leader. From a single mum on welfare to National’s next leader – Labour eat your heart out. She would be National’s deputy if English stood down tomorrow. 


The Health Minister is ambitious and is starting to get a bigger profile – and he likes the idea that he’s being spoken about as a potential leader. He will need to show more charisma and reach out more. His management of health hasn’t been as good as Tony Ryall’s but he’s still largely on top of his game. He can come across as boring on camera but behind the scenes is personable, likeable and has a sense of humour. My sources tell me, like Bennett, he’s starting to reach out to a wider group within caucus. His time may come a little later. 


Depending on who you speak to in the National Party she’s either a leader in waiting or someone you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Adams has been a powerhouse in the justice portfolio and her work on domestic violence stands out. She’s articulate and comes across well. Another one who likes the idea she’s being spoken about. Is also reaching out in caucus. 


He has long been discussed as a future National leader and that will probably mean it will never happen. On TV and radio he sucks the life out of the universe but he’s still very capable and knows his subject. Prone to smarminess but likeable and annoying at the same time. The fact he wants it so much will probably mean he’s left behind in the race for the top. 


I got to know Muller when he was a Boy Friday in  Jim Bolger’s office in 1996. A thoroughly smart and likeable bloke, Muller bleeds blue and has been earmarked for higher office from an early age. He has genuine private sector experience and has wisely kept his head down  in his first term as an MP. He has integrity (and isn’t as old as he looks!). Even James Shaw from the Greens thinks he’s a decent bloke. Muller’s time is probably up to a decade away – he won’t be the next leader but watch this space. 

National is fortunate to have multiple options.

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