2020 Elections under review: Judith Collins considered abandoning National Leadership

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Judith Collins admitted that she considered refusing the leadership of the National Party when asked by her peers to take up the role. In a raw and brutal assessment of the 2020 race, Collins recounted becoming National Representative a few months before the election. The night before Todd Muller officially declared his resignation as leader, some of her colleagues asked her to take on the role, Collins says. She acknowledges that she had serious doubts. “I wouldn’t quite describe it as a poison chalice but it was definitely not a golden ticket,” she says. Her husband decided she wasn’t going to take the work, but Collins said she had to sleep on the decision. The lawmakers are now out of their houses for a summer break and maybe more time for contemplation. They’ll be back at the beginning of next year-and if 2020 was a challenge, who knows what 2021 would offer.
“By the morning I had decided if ever there was a time I needed to step up it was now … I am an optimist and I genuinely believed that the election was still winnable by us if things went our way and if we could give New Zealanders a reason to change the government and unfortunately we didn’t do that,” Collins says. What resulted was a turbulent campaign characterised by “self-inflicted distractions and wounds” Collins claims that she inherited an inexperienced campaign squad forced together in a short period. “Covid-19 lockdowns and two shifts of leadership meant that we weren’t as well trained or prepared for an election as we were in the past. “There were also issues with our policy platform, campaign management, themes, messaging, discipline and of course distractions and scandals of our own making,” Collins says. The National Leader claims that this mix meant that the party did not seem to be a reliable government in waiting.
David Seymour’s reflection on the ACT movement compares dramatically with that of National’s. “I think it’s fair to say that it is storey of coming from the absolute depths of despair to moderate triumph … you have to start somewhere,” Seymour says. At the beginning of the last parliamentary term, Seymour says that he was in one of “deepest and darkest places a person can go” “There’s always a bright future and it may be that in only three years’ time you find yourself champagne in hand, riding a speed boat into the Viaduct Harbour,” he said. Green Party co-leader James Shaw commented on one election surprise-Chlöe Swarbrick becoming the first Green MP to gain an electorate seat in 20 years. “So Jacinda rang me up on the Sunday after the election, it was our first phone call, and she said ‘so, Auckland Central … didn’t see that coming’ and I said ‘the only person who saw that coming was Chlöe Swarbick’,” Shaw said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments concentrated primarily on the disaster that marked her first term as Prime Minister and Covid-19. She also commented on her political policy, which was for herself and the Labor MEPs to fly around the country to spend time in both the Red and Blue electorates. They’re all but Chris Hipkins. “For much of the general election campaign I felt a bit like the designated survivor,” he says. “I was stuck here in the Beehive poring over the daily testing numbers and the case investigations while all of my friends were out having fun around the rest of the country.” Hipkins says 2020 is going to be one of the most daunting in the history of New Zealand.


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