Mark Sainsbury: Ardern factor nudging National towards a leadership reboot

Bill English and his National Party colleagues address the media.
Bill English and his National Party colleagues address the media. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: So the rumours are starting already - Bill English is a goner as National Party leader and, shock horror, National MPs are plotting to replace him. 

Tell us something we don't know.

Here's the cruelty of politics - Bill English could very well be Prime Minster now.

If National had been able to convince Winston Peters to join in coalition, Bill English would be in the PM's office and unassailable. 

But he isn't and the Nats are thinking, 'what chance will we have next election and do we need a refresh?' The answer to the latter is yes, but the question is who? 

The Jacinda Ardern factor has changed everything. More by accident than design, Labour has been rejuvenated, and that makes the Nats look old, tired and yesterday's party. 

Think about it, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, Nick Smith, Stephen Joyce, Judith Collins… they suddenly look, well, I hesitate to use the word 'old', but they look 'last season'.

You'd find them on the 60 percent off rack at the Smith and Caughey's sale.

If there's been a generational shift in Labour politics, then National desperately needs to do something to be relevant and attractive to other parties, because, as they learnt to their regret this time round, you can't get anywhere without friends.

So who's got it?  I know many still hold a flame for Judith Collins as the only person who could drag them out of the mire.

But then, as the biggest party, it's not exactly in a mire… it's like Coca Cola.

Why does Coke advertise? It's not to convince those who know it already as one of the world's most recognisable brands.

It's to ensure the next generation can do that as well. It's future proofing. 

Who is the future for National?  Who do you see as the next leader?

Or maybe they are writing off Bill English too early. He has the background, the training and the values to lead, so why consign him to the dustbin of history so soon?

Maybe he needs to be more hip. Maybe he needs to take up dope.

Yes, the great marijuana debate is back on, with Government ticking the boxes – barely - by introducing a medical marijuana Bill that tinkers with helping those who want access to the drug to help with their illness, but still leaves those who currently try to help them open to prosecution.

The Greens have a separate Bill that goes further, but here's the question - is this a bit like the civil unions vs gay marriage debate?

Why go half way? If we want to reform marijuana law, deal with the whole thing.

Have a referendum, if you must, but don't destroy the whole thing with incrementalism. Just do something, for God's sake.

So where are you on this? You don't have to smoke or eat the stuff to support it.

And there are some I know who use pot, but don't want it legalised, as they think it could get out of control.

Where are you on this issue?

And here's something I read overnight that made me think… it was the guy - yes, a guy - who discovered, after 10 years frustrated that he couldn't fit his large dinner plates in his dishwasher, that the racks were actually adjustable and he could have been using it all that time.

These kind of tips are what you call a life hack - tips on things you may have missed.

So, do you have an appliance life hack? Mine would be dump the dishwasher.

If you want know to what your kids have been doing, or your brother or husband or wife, do the dishes together. It's one of the few times you actually talk.

That's my hack, let's hear yours.

Mark Sainsbury is RadioLIVE's Morning Talk host, phone 0800 844 747.