And so the destabilisation begins

The destabilisation of smug and hapless Bill English has begun and ironically it has begun from activities of his former biggest supporters.

The hint of the start of the destabilisation was Nikki Kaye professing her undying support for Bill English in the Michelle Boag arranged interview with Richard Harman at Politik. That interview has annoyed caucus members significantly.

Simon Bridges has been doing the numbers but he simply can’t get there despite his tour of the provinces. It hasn’t helped that his BBQ plans were leaked to me by disgruntled caucus members.

The media are now talking about the end of Bill English’s leadership, and that is worse than if it had actually ended.

Bill English insists he will continue leading the National Party as speculation mounts there could be fallout over the election loss.

English said today: “I’m focused on leading National back into government and I’m giving a speech today outlining how we are going to do that, including the party’s focus for the year ahead and how we will hold this Government to account.”

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper says the numbers are being counted in the National Party, and some of English’s colleagues expect him to call it quits.

Soper says the party’s MPs will meet behind closed doors in Simon Bridges’ electorate of Tauranga next Thursday and Friday.

He says there’s a general acceptance that English was robbed of the Prime Minister’s job by Winston Peters, but senior MPs are now jockeying for support to replace him.

At the same time, Soper says there’s a feeling he should leave on his own terms and with dignity.

He doesn’t deserve dignity. His smugness and arrogance cost National the election.

When the leader has to come out and defend his leadership and state that it is under no threat at all, then you know that it is under threat.

And you know that there are moves afoot because MPs are busily denying it.

So far National MPs are publicly denying a leadership coup is afoot.

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie conceded there has been “some talk”, but insisted the caucus was united.

“Everyone is behind Bill, everyone is behind [deputy leader] Paula [Bennett], we’re just focused on policy,” she said today.

United? Sure they are…she knows the numbers better than most…and we know Bridges doesn’t have them.

Questioned by media this morning, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye – whose name has been circulated as a potential candidate for the leadership – ruled herself out of standing for leadership and expressed full confidence in English and Bennett.

Danger Will Robinson. Whenever a contender rules themselves out they are actually in. Why else was there a push via Michelle Boag for Nikki Kaye to get some publicity? Why else the grandstanding over cannabis?

Senior MP Gerry Brownlee said “of course” when asked if he backed English.

Tim MacIndoe said he had “absolute faith” in National’s leadership team.

New Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule said had not heard any talk of a leadership change and he believed the leadership team was secure.

No one would tell Lawrence Yule, he is simply out of the loop.

Bennett has responded to speculation that her position might be in question, saying she has no intention of stepping down and she does not expect a challenge.

“We are a strong opposition who are focused on holding the Government to account,” she told the Herald this morning.

Asked if she was considering stepping down, she said: “Of course not.”

Her comments follow speculation this morning that her position as deputy leader may be uncertain, and that there are rumblings within the caucus about the leadership team.

“I’m focused on leading National back into government and I happen to be giving a speech today outlining how we are going to do that, including the party’s focus for the year ahead and how we will hold this Government to account,” English said in the statement this morning.

Bennett is most at risk, and when she goes then Bill is a man alone.

Senior MP Steven Joyce dismissed the speculation.

“Bill English is the leader and actually he has the support of the whole caucus,” Joyce told Newstalk ZB this morning.

“This is classic first day journalists who will speculate on National Party leadership, job done. Typewriter down.”

Joyce is talking out his arse. I know of three MPs that are counting numbers. The journos are right.

I’ll tell you one thing, once speculation starts about your leadership then it never stops, and it is, in fact, the beginning of the end of that leadership.

When you have your political opposition begging National to keep Bill English on you also know that they aren’t speaking in the best interests of the National party.


-NZ Herald


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.