National's not good at collectively addressing the elephant in the room for fear of causing offence but they are good talking about it behind cupped hands.

Their elephant's Winston Peters and they should be discussing why they failed to convince him that running the show is their natural habitat.

That's part of their problem of course, they like Hillary Clinton, couldn't see themselves losing, it wasn't part of their thinking.

Today they'll begin their two day retreat in Tauranga but there'll be no navel gazing, they'll instead be looking at how they can win, or as Bill English says, how they can earn the right to govern in 2020.

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To do that though surely they'll have to understand what went wrong and there are so many obvious things that they'd do well to consider.

For starters they set out to destroy the very man they had to sit down with to try and do business with.

English urged voters to cut out the middle man, during the campaign, and said he was a difficult character to deal with.

Worse still the pension overpayment to Peters was dropped by the Beehive and Peters saw Paula Bennett as the leaker.

That cut deep with the fiercely private New Zealand First leader and was the game changer which certainly wasn't helped by including Bennett on the coalition negotiating team.

National only needs to look at how Peters was dealt with by John Key in the 2008 election.

Used to taking risks in his former merchant banking role, Key declared that Peters wouldn't be part of a Government run by him and Peters and his team never made it back to Parliament and when he did, he wasn't needed by Key who'd already lined up his insurance coverage in three minnow parties.

Those minnows, with the exception Act which is currently on life support, have now all gone belly up leaving National up the creek without a waka.

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So National's now desperately seeking mates which are currently nonexistent.

But it seems their MPs won't be looking at what happened last year because on a solid 44 percent, many still believe they won, a view reinforced by Peters' loss to National in Northland.

And they still haven't got over their hatred of Peters.

They also won't discuss it because they've invited the next four people on their list to the Tauranga meeting which tells us a lot, current MPs like David Carter and Chris Finlayson, will be packing their bags before too long.

That's been further reinforced considering the annual caucus photo, scheduled for early March, has been put on hold.