Does English want the job?

John Key has made it clear his preference for the next National leader and Prime Minister is Bill English.

But does English want the job? He said he will indicate today whether he wants to go for it.

In the past he has indicated he was not interested in stepping up, but loyal deputies are supposed to say that.

In March Jarrod Gilbert interviewed English – Bill English: ‘I specialise in being boring’ – and wrote:

English has reached his political ceiling. He has no desire to have another shot at the leadership. He is as high up the ladder as he wishes to go. He doesn’t have to make a fuss to make his mark.

Yesterday Gilbert posted:

@JarrodGilbertNZ
The transcript from my interview with Bill English not wanting to be leader.

cy5atrduaaa2t7n

Things have changed substantially now.

English first entered Parliament when he won the Wallace seat in 1990, so he has been an MP for 26 years. Under MMP that electorate expanded into Clutha-Southland.

English took over leadership of National in 2001, and led the party to a record defeat in 2002. A year later he was dumped and Don Brash took over.

Brash lost the 2005 election and a year later resigned. John Key took over with English as his deputy and Finance Minister. They won the 2008 election and since ten have run a (mostly) solid and dependable Government.

In 2014 English gave up his electorate to become a list only MP. Twenty four years of commuting between Southland and Wellington may have been a factor.

This raised speculation the English may be positioning himself to retire – it’s a lot easier to slip out as a list MP rather than precipitating a by-election.

Was this what English wanted to do?

Regardless, Key’s decision will have given English a lot to consider. And reconsider perhaps.

English may hanker for a stint in the top spot to atone for his 2002 embarrassment. He may think that a term or so as leader will help the party transition top a post-key era.

But that is very risky for the party – a new leader in a fourth term will have the odds stacked against them.

But English could also consider his job almost done. He may see that National may benefit more if it switches to fresh new leadership and perhaps even a new Minister of Finance.

A fresh new leadership team may revitalise the Government. They would have a solid base to work from. The Opposition is in poor shape, despite renewed hope from Labour now that Key is going. So a major change now would be a good gamble for National.

We’ll find out later today which way English decides to go. If he wants to take over his chances must be very good, given the advantage and promotion Key has given him.

Helen Clark passed on to Phil Goff a waning party with a leadership vacuum.

Key is leaving National in a much stronger position, a large caucus with no doubt a number of ambitious MPs.

English may fancy his chances, or he may be prepared to play a longer game for the good of his party.

The job is probably his if he wants it, but that may not be in his best interests, nor National’s.

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35 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  6th December 2016

    As he has said he will let us know today, I feel speculation is pointless, and will make my prediction about whether he’ll take the job after his announcement, thus winning again.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  6th December 2016

      Reportedly he will count his numbers before making a decision. So he has the same strategy.

      • Gezza

         /  6th December 2016

        The man is not a dancing fool.

      • Klik Bate

         /  6th December 2016

        Michelle Boag speaks with some authority on the matter……..

        “Bill English will be PM with Paula Bennett as his deputy”

    • Funny. Winston claims to have predicted yesterday’s resignation – if you predict the same thing for half a century you will eventually be right I guess.

      Winston also said he has predicted who will be next Prime Minister, but he won’t say until it is announced. He will try not to say at all if he is wrong.

      And if his prediction is English the odds are pretty good.

      • Gezza

         /  6th December 2016

        “Winston also said he has predicted who will be next Prime Minister, but he won’t say until it is announced.”

        Unless he is able to produce and open a sealed, signed statement, witnessed by at least three people, one of whom is a National Party member, on live tv, and dated at least two days ago – this cuts no ice with me.

      • Blazer

         /  6th December 2016

        English ,would mean another change in 1 or 4 years.no one else has the gravitas however.

        • The thing with leaders is that we don’t know what leadership gravitas they have until they have a go.

          • Blazer

             /  6th December 2016

            Except English has had a go.And has 8 yrs as finance minister and keys right hand man.

        • Gezza

           /  6th December 2016

          I really don’t think he wants the job. So, if he takes it, it’ll be interesting to see how the electorate reacts to having such a reluctant leader – a competent opposition should have a field day with this all the way to the next election.

          • It will show if he takes it and is ‘yeah, I might as well give it a go’ versus being driven to lead well.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  6th December 2016

            Good point, Gezza. Key and Clark really wanted the job. Most others, not so much. It shows.

            • Yes, for both it was a long term ambition, a driving ambition.

              The task for National’s caucus will be to sort out the opportunists from the driven.

              English may well be more in the opportunist category, but it could be hard to tell with him.

    • Corky

       /  6th December 2016

      I said yesterday I predicted an English/ Crusher ticket. I overlooked the obvious. Paula is his understudy. A few commentators are predicting an English/ Paula combo should he throw his hat into the ring. I can live with that. It covers all bases: White male, Maori women, women,wealthy, poor, body issues, charisma bypass, street fighting, solo mums, West Auckland, Otago ” real man country..” Jeepers, is it any wonder National is a National treasure.

      • Gezza

         /  6th December 2016

        Yes, I’ve been thinking overnight about Crusher, Corks. If you had to go overseas for a few days, you’d always have to leave someone trustworthy behind to keep an eye on whether she was organising a mass knifing on your return. The thing about Paula though is isn’t she a bit too, well, “common”?

        • Corky

           /  6th December 2016

          Apparently Jim Bolger was knifed, both by the media and National before he even exited the airport terminal. Yes, Crusher would love doing the same, especially if Amy or Paula became leader. Talk about being bitch-whipped in the Ladies.

  2. artcroft

     /  6th December 2016

    Just to make it interesting I’m picking Amy Adams for the leadership and Bill to go gentle into that good night.

    • I suspect Bill’s plan this term was to slip away gently – at least until Key’s decision.

      • PDB

         /  6th December 2016

        I feel sorry for Bill actually – being a big National man he will feel obligated to fill the leadership gap even though he probably doesn’t need or want to.

        One thing in his favour though is that he would be facing the worst Labour leader in living memory so might fancy his chances of righting the wrong of his last attempt to become PM.

      • artcroft

         /  6th December 2016

        Maybe, but in reality he’s had free rein as Finance Minister to run the govt for 8 years without all the show pony duties he’s no good at. I suspect it’ll all be downhill for him if he takes the top job, especially as he’s clearly said he wouldn’t go for PM again.

      • Blazer

         /  6th December 2016

        how do you align that with him being ‘opportunist’?

    • Gezza

       /  6th December 2016

      Well, Johnkers will still be around to provide a bit of mentoring to Amy for just shy of a year, but how much time he can devote that may depend on exactly how much more help around the home Bronagh has told him she expects in future.

      Will he be a back bencher or get given a portfolio to see him into his retirement do you think?

  3. Klik Bate

     /  6th December 2016

    JK decides to hand over the reins to Bill before it’s too late……

  4. Amy Adams and Ms Collins both have what Blazer calls “gravitas” they also have showed intellectual qualities that appeal. Paula Bennett has the “common” touch but does not appeal in a leadership role because she would become hung-up on the different advice she would be getting. She has not articulated a vision for NZ’s future, and come to think about it neither have the others. So with English we get more of the same economically and fiscally, has he the stamina to see it through? Is it time for change of vision, are we looking for a new direction for NZ? Who is better able to resolve the income gap and the housing problem – if in fact there is such a thing in NZ? Given his track record as a failed leader, and his conviction that he will not stand, I think the only one I would exclude at this stage.

  5. Blazer

     /  6th December 2016

    Coleman has expressed interest.I think he cuts the mustard.

  6. Gezza

     /  6th December 2016

    Stuff.co. 12.40pm.

    Coleman has declared his hand and also wants to run the country. 😖

    Plus

    “Put a ring around the name Bill English as the people’s choice as next prime minister.

    The finance minister is the clear favourite to replace John Key in a Fairfax-Nielsen poll taken in the wake of John Key’s shock resignation on Monday.

    But there has been a small but significant shift in voter intentions against National as a result of Key’s resignation”

    • Gezza

       /  6th December 2016

      “12 min ago Jonathan Coleman and Bill English declare their hands – both want to lead the nation”

      Bill’s up for it. Fence post vs axeman.

  7. artcroft

     /  6th December 2016

    Good to see my prediction that English won’t run has proved accurate. I should do this for a living. I’m right up there with Winston in the forecasting stakes.

    • Gezza

       /  6th December 2016

      Shit. Wot. Has stuff.co got it wrong? How could that happen?

      • Gezza

         /  6th December 2016

        Nope – kidder 😡. Bill’s definitely going for it, Herald says the same thing. Paula is devastated by Key’s impending departure. No word on other contenders yet.

      • Gezza

         /  6th December 2016

        Herald:

        “Paula Bennett, who is Key’s preference for deputy leader, said she would wait to talk to caucus before commenting.

        She said she was “devastated” Key was leaving.

        “He’s the greatest leader I’ve ever known and ever seen and I’m just going to miss him. I’m going to miss him as a leader and miss him as a Prime Minister and miss him as a man.”

        Bennett would not comment on whether she would stand as deputy for English or Coleman. “I’ve got nothing to say. I’m just going to keep a bit of clear air.”

        Minister of Corrections Judith Collins refused to show her hand on the party’s leadership.”

        Corks, have you got a defibrillator, your heart could start fluttering dangerously on reading this?

        Might pay for Paula to get DPS to check the toilets & corridors over the next few days.

  8. Blazer

     /  6th December 2016

    spare a thought for smug,Mike,wonder if he’s stopped bawling…yet!

  9. Is Paula Bennett a “bit too common”? Rephrased “Doesn’t Paula Bennett have the common touch needed to reach out to all sorts of Kiwis?? “Gravitas” is a learned behaviour based on a good knowledge of diplomatic courtesies and rules of protocol. She has learned how to present herself in recent years, and can no longer be accused of being a “Frump”?
    I think that Amy Adams has the credentials for a good Minister of Finance and the probable solution would be English as PM, Amy as Deputy, unless Ms Collins can get wider support for her undoubted talents as a politician. Roll on Monday.

  10. Blazer

     /  6th December 2016

    Herald headline…a good reflection on the newspaper these days…

    Email Isaac
    @Isaac_Davison
    Isaac Davison Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.
    ‘Judith Collins announces tilt at MP role’