Fran O'Sullivan: Brash leaves Nats wounded

By Fran O'Sullivan

The National party has spoken. It told Don Brash that it could take no more damage from his leadership. No more pratfalls, no more damaging revelations.

And this time, Dr Brash made the right choice. He left today rather than wait for a damaging and divisive coup, which was looking increasingly likely by Christmas.

He was a leader who had lifted the party after the mauling in the polls of 2002. But his lack of skills in the hard political world, finally left his party fairly wounded. And we still have not seen the full extent of revelations about Dr Brash, his leadership and the advisors around him, from Nicky Hager's soon-to-be-published book.

Whoever takes over as leader will need to construct a new leadership team around him, both in the party's backroom and out front with the public. The party needs to have confidence in its leadership cadre. It desperately needs competence.

It remains too early to tell who will take over. Most of the speculation centres on John Key but don't underestimate Bill English. He has worked hard to win Caucus support. There are those who say a "souffle can't rise twice" but English has the example across the Tasman of that extraordinary politician, John Howard, dumped once only to return stronger.

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