Who should be National Party leader?

Posted December 7, 2016

If there’s one thing the National Party has learnt over the past 10 years, it’s the importance of having a leader that potential voters can relate to. It’s why National has been so dominant and gave them a massive head start in the last two election campaigns. The last thing they want now is to lose that advantage.

So who should be the new leader?

That means the new leader has to be someone people can relate to, which mean the contender with the best media skills. Key came across as genuine, was able to show character, while he clearly had the intellect for the job.

All likely contenders have the intellect, but I’m not convinced they are all able to show the character and genuineness that Key did. Bill English is a first-class politician, but comes across as a bit dry and serious. This didn’t work in 2002, and I’m not convinced it would work 15 years later. His skills in the finance role would also be missed.

Judith Collins has some baggage to deal with and can be a bit polarising. Both her and English would make great Prime Ministers, but it’s all about public perceptions.

My pick would be Jonathan Coleman. From what I’ve seen of him on TV, he looks extremely comfortable on camera and appears to get his messages across clearly with a bit of colour. This ability to get messages across with colour is so important in today’s world. Facts are no longer enough.

Coleman may need some work on how to talk in sound bites like Key did so well, but I see him as the most likely to follow on where Key left off. He would also win any competition among contenders as the candidate people would find ‘the most comfortable to have a beer with’, a title Key has held for 9 years.

In a nutshell, all candidates are capable and competent. But nowadays, it’s not enough to be the best candidate, or the most qualified. You need to show colour, emotion and have Key’s ability to talk in sound bites.

If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself who was more qualified to be US President. Then ask yourself which of those candidates was better at using colour, sound bites and emotion in their campaign.

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