Former National Party leader and Prime Minister Sir John Key offered supporters some words of comfort as they reflected on their resounding loss at the election this morning, insisting Jacinda Ardern isn’t unbeatable.
Speaking to reporters at the National Party’s AGM this morning, Key said National would come back stronger at the next election.
“I think she's [Ardern’s] an empathy politician that communicates well. She’s always had those - they’re not new. That’s her strength,” Key said.
“That doesn’t mean she’s not beatable. Bluntly, Nikki Kaye beat her a couple of times when I was the leader in Auckland Central.
“Anything’s possible and things happen over time.”
He said the key strategy to win an election, instead, was to “prove that you’ve got a better proposition as the alternative”.
As to whether Judith Collins would be National’s leader at the next election, or become the next Prime Minister, Key said that decision was up to the caucus.
When asked to respond to National Party president Peter Goodfellow’s comments that called the 2020 election a “race of celebrity leadership”, making reference to Ardern’s star power, Key said it was up to the party’s leadership to decide how they wanted to critique Ardern.
Similar comments about Key’s star power were made during his time in Parliament.
Key delivered some brutal truths to the party’s members this morning.
“If we underestimate Jacinda and her advisers, we will be in opposition for a very long time,” he said.
“The public needs to hear our message, they need to hear us talking about them and their families.
“They don’t want to hear us talking about ourselves. They have to be assured of our competence.”
He also issued a stern warning for National Party leakers: “If you can’t quit your leaking, here’s a clue, quit the party.”