National’s Peter Goodfellow says the Covid-19 pandemic meant the 2020 election was reduced to a “race of celebrity leadership” and made reasoned debate almost “treasonous”.
Addressing the party faithful at National’s annual general meeting today, the sitting president promised the party would come back stronger following a resounding election defeat.
"We made mistakes," he said, listing repeated leadership changes, "unforced errors" and the perception there was no unity.
He said Covid-19 made it "suddenly a crime to ask legitimate questions,” saying democracy gave way to “temporary tyranny”.
Reflecting on the brutal 2020 election defeat, Goodfellow said it was a matter of "we were damned if we did, damned if we didn't” because it was difficult to express contrary opinions.
“[The Covid-19 pandemic] almost immediately and irreversibly redefined the normal political landscape...quickly descending to a race of celebrity leadership in trying times,” Goodfellow said.
“Reasoned debate on contentious issues almost became treasonous.
"No one should face death threats or violence for voicing an opinion, no matter how much you disagree. But that was the reality in a Jacinda-mania world."
Goodfellow thanked leader Judith Collins saying, "we couldn't be prouder of you. In difficult times you rose to the challenge and gave it your all to the very last day".
Goodfellow is seeking re-election to National's board at their annual general meeting.