So who do you reckon?

Of course we don't know, and when we don't know, we guess. And there has been a lot of guessing going on. But by this afternoon, National will have a new leader, might have a new deputy leader, and potentially a new era will begin.

This is a big deal day given the Nats haven't really had an open contest for years, and we have all been the better for it. As much as some may like a headline and a bit of drama, the stability and consistency of the past decade - indeed the eight years before that with Helen Clark - have served this country very well.

When there is nothing to see or speculate on, that's when we concentrate on the important stuff like running the country. And this country has been run well now for about 16 years.

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The next two-and-a-half are still under consideration by the jury and, depending on how today goes, the question will be whether National is in a position in 2020 to make it a race. Will they be tipped out of office or merely fumble through a second term in Opposition? Which is why the so-called fill-in leader has been such a futile and naïve argument.

National lineup: Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Steven Joyce, Mark Mitchell and Judith Collins.
National lineup: Simon Bridges, Amy Adams, Steven Joyce, Mark Mitchell and Judith Collins.

Stick old Judith in there for now, rark up Jacinda, get in her grill and send the newly minted Mark Mitchell in just before the election, that's one of the theories being bandied about. Forgetting of course, only idiots appoint leaders that way. The winner today needs to be the leader for the 2020 vote. Labour has made leadership drama their own special form of madness and that's why they've spent more time in Opposition than government.

National needs to avoid the troubles of 2002. In other words, they must remain at all times a solid, popular, viable alternative government. The moment they look dishevelled, is the moment they give Labour and the Greens six years in office.

If it was a public vote, Collins would win. But it's not, and she won't. Mitchell will not win either and nor should he. Because Adams and Joyce are better. Bridges, they say, mainly because he's been calling them and telling them, is the favourite.

My gut - and I am happy to be wrong - but my gut says he's a mistake. He's the same sort of mistake they made with English this last time. In the mad panic to counter the Jacinda factor, some seem to have lost sight of the fact they have economic credibility, while Labour does not.

They are the most popular party, they are the biggest Opposition in history - in other words they're doing fine. They're merely the victim of grumpy old Winston and a system that doesn't automatically reward large-scale electoral success. Not a reason to panic, not a reason to roll out shallow cliches like generational change. So two things: one, Joyce should win because he's the best, and two, no matter who wins, the party needs to get behind them, and make it a united result.