Things are going from bad to worse for the National Party. Judith Collins must wonder what she has done in another life to deserve what she has at present.
The last few weeks have been disastrous for Collins and her party: Nick Smith, the "father of the House" retiring from politics suddenly following some sort of verbal altercation with a staffer; wunderkind Jake Bezzant getting the heave-ho from the party following explosive claims he impersonated his ex-partner online, shared explicit photos and even pretended to be her during cyber sex; and Paul Goldsmith, a historian, describing colonisation as being a good thing for Māori has not helped. Even Goldsmith's own party colleagues were quick to distance themselves from that brain-fade.
National is going through a tough period. History will show that it will recover. The party of business, farming and the upper end of town got dealt to in the 2020 election, losing some of its blue-ribbon seats to Labour, seats that should never, in any political pundit's wildest dreams, have gone red.
The leadership woes of 2020 together with mistimed comments from Simon Bridges about the approach the Government was taking in dealing with Covid-19 turned many centre voters left and right-leaning voters towards Act.
Of course, Labour has capitalised on being able to govern alone, the first time this has happened under MMP, but despite huge promises from its first term remaining to be fulfilled - such as 1800 new police positions, housing and infrastructure - things are still really stuttering along. To be fair to Labour, Covid-19 has to be taken into account to a certain extent, no one saw that coming.
The economy has not taken the hit everyone thought it would following the huge injection of government cash into the community during and after lockdown. In fact GDP increases are still expected to coast along for the next few years at 3.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent, respectable rates even in so-called good times.
National, with its own problems, is having difficulty taking the Government to task as we expect them to as the main party of opposition.
They keep getting blindsided by internal matters and embarrassing gaffes.
Of course, Labour loves this and makes the most of it at every opportunity.
In my opinion the writing was on the wall for Smith, a very long-term career politician who was dumped by his Nelson constituency but snuck back in to Parliament on that abomination called "the list".
Likewise for Gerry Brownlee, who defied logic and lost Ilam to Labour yet is now sitting quietly in a safe list position until he decides to also retire.
I know we need the list under the MMP system but it has its issues.
Smith is to be replaced in Parliament by Harete Hipango, who as a first-time MP was elected in the Whanganui electorate in 2017 against the trend towards Labour. Hipango was a popular choice following on from Chester Borrows, well-respected as an MP and ex-Minister both across party lines and in his constituency.
However time passed and Hipango, for several reasons, did not retain the confidence of her electorate, being beaten in a huge turnaround of votes by another first-time MP, Labour's Steph Lewis. Hipango, reportedly close to Collins, is now back in Parliament but via the list.
Without the list, Parliament would not be as diverse as it is but it also gives us MPs who do not have the three-yearly job review that electorate MPs have to face.
National has some work to do. Collins is stagnant in the polls as preferred Prime Minister, not an unusual thing at this time in the electoral cycle, but she needs to be seen to be forming a tight team around her. Successful political leaders in New Zealand have always had strong, very able lieutenants around them who protect and encourage them in their leadership.
Collins needs to find a Grant Robertson and a Chris Hipkins, perhaps even an Andrew Little and a Megan Woods among her own team - extremely able sound politicians and loyal to their leader. John Key had Bill English, they were a tight team. Collins does not seem to enjoy that level of trust and confidence yet.
Shane Reti and Andrew Bayly could be contenders, both seem able and both seem to have been anointed by their leader as safe operators. She is probably wary of the likes of Nicola Willis, Chris Bishop and Mark Mitchell, all named as potential leaders. Simon Bridges' leadership ambitions may not yet be quenched and as for Chris Luxon, no doubt his time will come.
Perhaps Harete Hipango could be the start for a Collins leadership group going into 2023.