Bill English’s resignation

Bill English managed to keep secret the news of his resignation as National Party leader and from Parliament until just before he have a news conference announcing it this morning.

This isn’t really a surprise to me. English was reportedly considering resigning a couple of years ago but stepped up and stayed on when  John Key resigned. English went on to do a creditable job in the election campaign last year, and possibly also to his credit he didn’t concede enough to win Winston Peters’ support to form a Government.

The timing was initially a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense. If he stepped down too soon after the election the party would have not been in a good situation to consider a new leader – after losing power all National MPs would have benefited from considering their futures.

So English waited until everyone was settled into the first full year of the current term, and then made his announcement.

English has been one of the most influential politicians in new Zealand this century. He is widely applauded for managing the country through very difficult financial times, first taking over as Finance Minister as the Global Financial Crisis hit, and then managing our way through the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Labour will be thankful to have taken over when the country’s books are in such good order.

And Jacinda Ardern seemed to genuinely applaud his achievements, as any good Prime Minsiter would:

Just heard the news that Bill English has decided to stand down. Bill has made a huge contribution through his time in office and to politics generally. I admire those who serve NZ in this place, and Bill did for a long time, and he did it well. My best wishes

So it’s a well earned political retirement for English, while National now has to deal with choosing a new leader, but that’s a different story.

UPDATE: Statement on Bill English

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today paid tribute to outgoing National Party Leader Bill English.

“Bill has worked tirelessly as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Opposition Leader among his many public roles. Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many.

“He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf.

“The impact of public service on a politician’s family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up.  They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability.

“I wish Bill and his family all the best for the future,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Interview: Bill English on his resignation

29 Comments

  1. Griff

     /  February 13, 2018

    By Bill
    After the election it was inevitable.
    I thought it would happen even if national won.
    The man doesn’t have the charisma needed to compete in media driven politics.
    Win or lose the knifes were going to be out for him.

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  February 13, 2018

    Jacinda Ardern certainly didn’t go overboard with her praise. It was a rather ordinary, generic speech that could have been about anyone and not over-generous.

    It does seem to be standard practice that the leader of the losing party steps down.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  February 13, 2018

      Why spend 3 years hitting your head against a brick wall. I read somewhere, what if Jacinda had got pregnant 6 months earlier, would she now be PM? Timing is everything.

    • That was a tweet. I’ve updated the post with a statement from Ardern that goes a bit further.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  February 13, 2018

        Yes, Patz, I think that the baby was timed and not the happy accident that we have been given the impression it was. it’s hard to believe that a woman in her 30s would not know what causes it.

        • Patzcuaro

           /  February 13, 2018

          I’m not suggesting that the baby was timed but that timing in politics is everything. I think she was having difficulty conceiving so may not have been taking precautions.

          But if she had just given birth prior to the election she probably would not have become leader of Labour and the election outcome would have been different.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  February 14, 2018

            We’ll never know, of course.

            I do think that employers have the right to know, as they are going to have all the hassle of either arranging a temp (if they can) or having everyone else doing extra work.

  3. Blazer

     /  February 13, 2018

    The foundation for English’s reputation as a competent finance minister were laid by Michael Cullen.If he had not inherited a situation where NZ had very low public debt,he would not have been able to borrow the 100 billion he did,that enabled National to maintain the policies…they did and to offer tax cuts for…votes.A black mark on his tenure is his failure to address the housing crisis and rising levels of…poverty.

    • PDB

       /  February 13, 2018

      That would be the ‘decade of deficits’ Michael Cullen? Cullen would have tried to tax his way out of the GFC/earthquakes (there wasn’t a tax Cullen didn’t like) and the economy would have gone to shit. Yes, paying down debt was great but considering the money rolling in pre-GFC (fools gold) he had an easy job doing so & did so whilst ramping up spending on pet projects and vote buying.

      When Cullen handed over the books to National in 2008 he happily announced with an arrogant smirk ‘the cupboard is bare’. English in the same position was proud to hand over to Labour in 2017 a booming economy. Pretty much sums up the difference between the two men.

      • Blazer

         /  February 13, 2018

        I just told you why English was able to borrow more in his terms than NZ had borrowed for its entire …existence.Never mind your woulda,coulda,shoulda.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 13, 2018

          We know why he could: because Cullen had taxed the life out of everything else except property.

  4. Gerrit

     /  February 13, 2018

    Mind you when reading Winston Peters remarks one can understand why he was never going with National. His hatred is unbridled.

    Especially now he has stopped legal proceeding against National party ministers but will face a legal bill for expenses gardened by the ministers.

  5. PDB

     /  February 13, 2018

    National are no better off than Labour were after Helen was given the ass-card. Inter-faction fighting will be the order of the day whilst there is no clear person to be party leader.

    I don’t blame English as he has done his time and politics is a tough job. Though there be those that hate him regardless of what he has done for the country he was an excellent finance minster seeing us through some of our toughest economic times. Unfortunately for the National party though it would have been better for him to hang in there until mid-term so the party had time to find/groom a suitable leader. Nick Smith should also move on.

    I can’t see anybody within the top end of the current ranks of the National party able to gather the necessary votes in a general election to become PM. Their next PM could well be not in parliament yet.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  February 13, 2018

      Maybe better for the National Party but better for Bill English to get out now and move on.

      • PDB

         /  February 13, 2018

        I agree – if he wasn’t pushed he probably could see the factions within the party building & who needs that shit at his stage of life.

    • robertguyton

       /  February 13, 2018

      “I can’t see anybody within the top end of the current ranks of the National party able to gather the necessary votes in a general election to become PM.”
      Astute comment.

    • Blazer

       /  February 14, 2018

      ……handled the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes with…aplomb…insert John Key or Bill English into this sentence…or Gerry Brownlee or..!!

  6. Chuck Bird

     /  February 13, 2018

    Judith Collins

    • PDB

       /  February 13, 2018

      Regardless of whether she was right or wrong over ‘milk-gate’ she was successfully discredited by the opposition and hence her public appeal is very limited.

      She has zero chance of being PM if made leader of National. She’d actually be better off joining ACT, giving that party a shake up and becoming its leader.

      • Griff

         /  February 13, 2018

        Act is liberal
        Collins is a conservative
        Same as banks was.
        She should join the conservative party.
        ROFL.

        • PDB

           /  February 14, 2018

          ACT (who basically are non-existent) need a boost, she would provide it plus an electorate seat.

    • Blazer

       /  February 14, 2018

      don’t be shy,tell us…why.

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 13, 2018

    Usually the Nats manage their leadership changes pretty smoothly. It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out and whether they go for pitbull or strategist.

    • Gezza

       /  February 13, 2018

      Who’s their strategist?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 13, 2018

        We may find out.

        • Gezza

           /  February 13, 2018

          It’s interesting isn’t it? Now that Bill’s packed it in to look for some lucrative sinecures nobody stands out as his obvious successor – in the way that he did as John Key’s.

          But they won’t muck about. And the whole team will get behind them. I don’t expect they’ll have to wear body armour the way all Helen’s successors did.