The Labour Party was quietly thrilled last week after getting over the shock of John Key's resignation as Prime Minister and his endorsement of Bill English.

It has less reason to be thrilled after English's election as leader and appointment as Prime Minister.

In a 40-minute press conference he showed a political dexterity that would have matched Key and a depth that surpassed him.

Key was usually well briefed and could answer most questions.


Even when he had nothing to say, he could say it rather well.

But English, after a lifelong relationship with the National Party, 26 years in Parliament and eight years as Finance Minister, has an unrivalled breadth of knowledge about New Zealand, it constitution, its history, Government, economy and politics.

And today, all of that was on display.

The strength of the English story that political pundits say is essential to political success is not a rags to riches story.

The English story is an ongoing and forward story, his ideas to concretely tackle social ills and how he has put that into effect through the social investment approach, in parallel with a health economy.

He is both a theoretician and a practitioner. As Prime Minister he will be its monitor in chief.

English has a huge challenge in creating his own connection with the voting public after Key.

By promising his ministers and restless backbenchers a stronger voice in his Government, English is acknowledging Key's complete dominance of National's relationship with the voting public.


But the leadership team should be wary to spread those duties too thinly.

It might soothe a few impatient backbenchers. But English has a compelling New Zealand story to tell and an ability to tell it well.

English could be a harder target for Labour than it thinks.