National Party review of disastrous election result announced


Former Prime Minister John Key had a staunch message to any National MPs who continue to leak against the party: “If you can’t quit leaking, quit the party”. Video / Mark Mitchel

The National Party has kicked off the review of its election result, announcing a team including the former party president who overhauled the party after its worst-ever result in 2002.

Judy Kirk, the President from 2002 to 2009, is on a panel of five who will probe the 2020 election result which reduced National to 33 MPs, including looking at the performance of the caucus and the party over the three years before the election, as well as its candidate selection.

It will take into account the political environment leading up to the election, and the party’s strategy, narrative and execution on the campaign.

The panel will be chaired by businessman Mark Darrow.

Former MP Kate Wilkinson, June McCabe, Jamie Beaton, and Kirk are other panelists. Party President Peter Goodfellow said they were selected because they were not involved in running the campaign, and knew the party well. They would have scope to talk to people both within and outside the party as they thought necessary.

The panel was expected to provide recommendations for the next three years and the 2023 campaign.

A draft report was expected by the end of January next year, and a final report a year later.

“There is no doubt 2020 was a difficult year for the National Party and we would be foolish not to comprehensively review every aspect of our approach to the campaign, and our work throughout the last term of Parliament.”

Confirmation of the details of the review follow the party’s annual general meeting on the weekend, at which former PM Sir John Key gave a blistering speech about the problems the party had got itself into, saying its election result could be put firmly at its own door. He told the MPs to stop leaking or leave the party.

The party was beset by problems after Covid-19 arrived in New Zealand from March – changing its leader from Simon Bridges to Todd Muller after panic about a dive in its polling over the lockdown period. After Muller stood down, Judith Collins stepped in as leader.

A slew of its highest-profile MPs also resigned during that period, including Paula Bennett, Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye, while other MPs resigned after getting into troubles such as Hamish Walker and Andrew Falloon.

Kirk oversaw the last such review after the 2002 election, and led big changes to the party’s constitution, including creating the board model it now operates under.

She was helped by Steven Joyce, who was appointed general secretary.

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