So as we've heard, the final piece in the National Party leadership puzzle has been put into play.

Steven Joyce is in - and he, for my money, is the party's answer.

If you are a regular, you know I argued for him last time, post John Key. I said for a party to pick Bill English, the bloke who led them to disaster in 2002, would send the wrong message.

It said of all the people who came into Parliament in the past 15 years, there wasn't anyone who was better than Bill. That was a dreadful mistake. Not that he didn't do well, because he did. But isn't it ironic we are banging on about generational renewal now, but thought a bloke who's been there forever was a fresh response at the time.


Anyway, this a quality field. And the good news with that is the party should feel good going forward.

They're the biggest player in Parliament, the biggest opposition in history, and the economy and its ongoing robustness is still directly attributable to them. So no matter who wins, if they don't get all pissy and personal about it, they have a lot of momentum to drive them on.

But without a shadow of a doubt, within that field, Steven Joyce wins hands down.

I like Judith Collins, and she would be my choice if Joyce hadn't announced this morning.

I like what Mark Mitchell had to say yesterday, but you can't beat experience and profile - not when you're up against a couple of seasoned pros like Collins and Joyce - and Mitchell has neither.

And I like Joyce because when you deal with him every week as we do, you get to know a person. His downside is he's bully-ish. He can come across as an ogre, a bloke you wouldn't want to work for. He needs to tone that down.

Upside is, the record speaks for itself. Whether it's the management of the National campaign into three terms of government, or the finances which are as good as virtually anywhere in the world, find a subject on this show on any given Wednesday that he didn't know about, know a lot about, speak knowledgeably on.

His brain is enormous. He's a self-made man, a traditionally important aspect I would have thought for National Party leadership. And, like Key, doesn't need it.

Joyce hasn't hung around the place for years looking for it. In other words, he's doing it for the right reasons. His risk? He gets it, and doesn't get to go all the way to 2020.

But that, to a degree, is up to how he performs between now and then.

But the important bit is, without Joyce it was a good contest - with Joyce it's no contest.