National leader Bill English has scotched speculation National could help create a new conservative party as a potential future support partner, saying it would be a waste of time and would not work.
The latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll had National on 46 per cent, still well ahead of Labour on 39 per cent – but without any support partners it would still have left National short of being able to form a Government.
Politik has reported chatter in some National circles about "sponsoring" a new conservative party on the right as a future support partner for National after NZ First leader Winston Peters sent National to Opposition by choosing Labour.
English said it was inevitable there would be discussion about future partners, given the demise of United Future and the Maori Party left it with just the one-MP Act Party of its old support partners.
"But I think any attempt by a major party to start or sponsor a small party would be regarded with some scepticism by the public and we don't intend to spend any time on it."
He said it was too soon to start speculating about the 2020 election because a lot could change.
"But I think it would be a fairly speculative exercise to think someone could start any kind of party now that was going to be viable in 2020. You saw with TOP [The Opportunities Party], even with very extensive funding it got to 2.5 per cent."
The Politik report said Tamaki MP Simon O'Connor was being talked about as a possible leader of a new party and Judith Collins would have the profile a new party would need. Both hold safe National electorates.
Both O'Connor and Collins told the Herald such a step was not in their plans. Collins said it was "someone blowing smoke".
"It's not at all on the agenda. I've been very staunchly National and I see no reason to change."
O'Connor laughed when told what the report said and said nobody had raised the prospect of a new party with him.
"The short answer is no. I'm a very happy, loyal National Party person and have been right from when I joined. I'm very happy with the party and where I am in it."
The four per cent result of the Conservative Party in 2014 showed there could be room for a conservative party on the right compared to the more liberal Act Party.
However, it was difficult to establish a new party as the Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party had shown and would require a well-known leader and deep pockets.
Hopes of Act rebuilding to a more sizable party are low in National and some believe leader David Seymour's focus on his End of Life Choice euthanasia bill will not help.
Currently the only option National has for the future is NZ First, which was at five per cent in the Colmar Brunton poll – the threshold to get back into Parliament unless it can win an electorate seat.
One senior National figure said trying to ensure NZ First could work with National was a better option than working to get a new party off the ground.
However, that would involve sidelining those National MPs Peters had an antipathy for.
There was also a risk a new party could go rogue.