Prime Minister John Key’s abrupt resignation raises some fascinating questions about who will succeed him. But these questions are not only about who will succeed him, but about the ideological tone that National will set for the election. Will it stay centrist or swing to the right?
Yesterday the Party was united in thanking Mr Key for the years in office his leadership had given them. Today the jostling for position among National’s Members of Parliament will begin. Some of the members vying for the job of Prime Minister will have been Leader or Deputy Leader in the past. Others will be after the job for no other reason than ambition. So as Parliament enters one of the last weeks before rising for Christmas, who are the Members looking at Mr Key’s job?
Judith Collins: Conservative, and ambitious, Ms Collins appeals to the hard right of National. Known as Crusher Collins for her support of legislation to crush boy racers cars, Ms Collins has had a chequered time in office. Her time as Minister for Justice was tempered by the Oravida scandal where she was accused of endorsing milk produced by a company her husband runs, and she resigned after being accused of undermining the office of a public servant. Considered corrupt by many and could be a damaging choice if elected.
Bill English: The last survivor of the National Party “brat pack” in the 1990’s, Mr English is a veteran of the National Party. He held until 2014 the Clutha Southland Electorate, widely considered to be one of the bluest electorates in New Zealand. His political resume is as impressive as it is chequered. He led the party from 1999-2002 when a victorious Labour campaign saw National crash to an all time low of 27 Members of Parliament. Solid, but dour to many, Mr English has nevertheless been a loyal supporter. His knowledge of finances has meant that for the last 10 years since Don Brash was rolled in 2006, Mr English has held the finance portfolio first as spokesperson and more recently as Treasurer. A favourite with Mr Key.
Steven Joyce: Mr Fix It is how Mr Joyce is known around Parliament and by the media when it comes to fixing problems in the National Party. Whilst not known as a keen contender, his name has been bounced around by people looking for an alternative to the likely scrap between Ms Collins and Mr English. A tendency to talk down to people and lack of name recognition may count him out.
Let the jostlin’ begin!