Todd and Nikki ‘one of the best’ – Judith Collins on National leadership and new book

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Veteran National MP Judith Collins says she is “very happy” with the new leadership team, as she confirms her vote went to Todd Muller – not Simon Bridges.

Speaking to RNZ’s Checkpoint ahead of the release of her new book Pull No Punches – due out later this week – Collins said Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye were “one of the best” leadership teams she had worked with.

The MP of 18 years denied any personal leadership aspirations, saying she was happy being a valued member of a team – a team she believes has a good chance of winning the election.

“I want to be part of a team that I’m valued, and I’m able to do what I need to do…and I feel very comfortable.

“I’ve actually dealt with a lot of leaders in the past and I find Todd and Nikki a very nice leadership team – actually one of the best.”

Asked if she felt valued as much by the previous leader Simon Bridges, she said “you’d have to ask him. But…I feel more comfortable where we are”.

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She would not say whether either Bridges or Muller had called her to ask personally for her vote ahead of the leadership vote.

“Look, I’ve worked very closely with both and talked very closely with both Simon Bridges and Todd Muller during the leadership change, and I’m very happy with the result that we have.”

So did she vote for Muller?

“Well I did, yeah.”

Despite National polling below Labour, she’s positive about the party’s chances at the election and believes they’re going to win.

Under Muller, National has so far maintained its policy that it would not work with New Zealand First.

Asked if she supported that, Collins said it was not up to her – but “people need to understand that if they give a vote to one party it doesn’t necessarily help us.”

On the subject of former party leader Bill English, Collins said he was not a good leader.

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“I think Bill’s best role was as deputy prime minister and as finance minister. I think he was outstanding in those roles, but I think as leader it wasn’t as good as, say, others were. I mean, John Key was an outstanding leader.”

A good leader needs to be good at making decisions – sometimes painful and sometimes great, she said.

“But whatever it is, you need to know what you’re dealing with, and I think Bill always struggled with that.”

While the book gave some insights into backroom National Party goings on, it was largely “positive” and about her family, journey and resilience, Collins said.

“People often say to me ‘how did you keep going’, well that book tells people how I kept going.”

Pull No Punches is in bookstores from this Wednesday.

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