Perhaps we can reflect on the Bill English contribution nearer the time he actually leaves.

For now, the more pressing issue is who is going to lead the Nats?

There is a pretty solid series of contenders. Amy Adams, Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, Mark Mitchell, Jonathan Coleman. I'd stick Steven Joyce in there, but I stuck him in there last time before English got the job. In fact I said English was a mistake from day one, and I could probably sit here now and say I told you so.

The only real counter to that is that he performed well in the election and got a very good result. So good, I don't know why he's leaving. But if it really is a personal call, good on him. Life is short to do stuff you don't love.


Anyway, who's next?

Nikki Kaye ruled herself out this morning. She might have been a contender because she's young and, like Jacinda, that alone is why she shouldn't get the job.

The National Party must never forget they are more popular than the government, that what they represent politically still has a large base of support.

In other words, don't get sucked into believing that just because the Prime Minister is having a honeymoon, then all you need to compete is a mini-me. You don't win by copycatting. It shows no imagination or belief in your own approach.

We can rule Jonathan Coleman out. He lacks personality. Say whatever you want about policy, expertise, brains and experience, it's the X-factor you want top of your list of criteria.

Judith Collins is my kind of operator. She is self-assured, articulate, can be funny by being acerbic, doesn't suffer fools, has a good track record, wouldn't die wondering. She's divisive, but then so am I. It hasn't held me back.

Simon Bridges looks good. Speaks funny though; mind you so does Bill English. But he's bright, knowledgeable, widely seen as competent, Maori which has to help, and provincial which has to help.

Amy Adams we can rule out. Very competent, but she doesn't reek leader to me, sort of like Don McKinnon or Michael Cullen never did.


Paula Bennett we can rule out, she's blamed for the Winston Peters debacle. That, by the way, is another thing they must not get trapped into, if they think they need someone to suck up to Winston. Forget it. He hates them, he was never going with them, he's retiring and his party will be over in a couple of years when he does. He's not their worry, the next election is.

Winston Peters ... the Nats
Winston Peters ... the Nats "have to forget about him". Photo / File.

Which is the other good point of English leaving, it gives the new person three years to make it happen.

Anyway, back to the names. Mark Mitchell strikes me as left field, a bit new, a bit unknown.

So really, you only have a couple of what you would call "sensible realistic prospects".

Bridges or Collins? I'd take Collins, and then take a seat - and watch the sparks fly.