Vote2020

COMMENT:

I guess the question of the day is: Who should take over as National leader?

The names in the mix are Judith Collins, Mark Mitchell, Nikki Kaye and Simon Bridges.

Of course you know I think the answer is Judith Collins. I'll take you through the process of elimination that gets me there.

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First of all, the most important thing for the National Party right now is experience. They need someone who has a strategy ready to go, is not going to melt under media pressure, and won't make silly mistakes.

Because that is exactly what just went wrong with Todd Muller: He seemed to have underestimated the job and made mistakes.

And based on that, I reckon you can pretty much immediately rule out Mark Mitchell.

He is too inexperienced.

And mistakes rule out Nikki Kaye.

Remember she's responsible for the Paora Goldsmith, of Ngati Porou, story.

And we don't yet have a clear idea of how many of Muller's mistakes were actually really the mistakes of his team – including Nikki.

By the sounds of things, Muller was delegating a lot of decision-making to her and Amy Adams, so we don't know how much of what went wrong with the privacy leak story last week was actually because of her calls.

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Also, she's polarising in caucus and I don't think has the gravitas to be considered a possible PM.

Which leaves us with the two most experienced MPs: Bridges and Collins.

Shell-shocked National MPs are making their way to Wellington for an emergency caucus meeting tonight to begin the process of replacing Todd Muller as leader. Video / Mark Mitchell

Bridges has experience, he has strategy, he has profile and he's got a record of keeping the vote high during normal times.

But the public don't like him.

The word is his unfavourables were really, really bad. You can't recover from that. I don't believe he can resurrect National's vote.

And perception-wise, it's bad enough changing leaders this often. It's worse changing back to the guy you just dumped. He's out.

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Which leaves us with Judith. This is her time. She's waited patiently for it.

She has experience, cunning, name recognition and - apparently - has a strategy ready to go.

Collins understands centre-right, middle NZ politics in a way that I'm not sure Muller and his team totally did.

She will appeal to the core National base, so she'll do the job of saving the furniture. The risk is she's polarising so she could struggle to attract those centre voters who've warmed to the PM.

But this is where I also wouldn't underestimate Collins. She has authenticity. You know she's ruthless. She doesn't pretend to be anything else. And authenticity counts for a lot in politics.

If National is looking for someone to take it to the PM and hit the ground running, Collins is the one. National's Caucus should stop ignoring the best candidate its got, and put Collins in.

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* Heather du Plessis-Allan hosts Drive on Newstalk ZB, weekdays, 4pm-7pm.