NZ Election 2020: Political commentator says the lack of MPs at National's election night HQ 'speaks volumes'

A political commentator says the lack of MPs at National's election night event "speaks volumes" about the party's culture.

Labour won the New Zealand election on Saturday with 49 percent of the vote, with National trailing behind at 26.6 percent.

The outcome was evident early in the night when the first votes came in and the party faced the loss of many former safe electorate seats.

When leader Judith Collins took to the stage at National's headquarters at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, only a few MPs were spotted in attendance.

Labour also cleaned up the electorate votes, turning many National seats to Labour.

Political commentator Trish Sherson told The AM Show on Monday the electorates turning red is "a real message that National has to listen to".

"Not only was their campaign shambolic, the fact that only four of their MPs turned up to support their leader at the end of the night speaks volumes about what's gone wrong with the culture in that party."

But former Labour Party President Mike Williams, who was also on the panel, pointed out that when National stooped to only 20.9 percent in the 2002 election, three years later they came very close to winning.

"Things can change very rapidly," he said.

When asked what National needs to do to win the 2023 election, Williams said there "is a lot of ground to make up".

"For National to rebuild they do need another leader," he said.

"It's just not going to work for them. They need a new leader, but not immediately. I'd say lets have a good look at who's there, not many have survived. 

"I think they will need to replace the leadership, they will need to develop coherent policies because they are all over the place."

But Sherson said she thinks ousting Judith Collins as leader should be "the last cab off the rank".

She said she isn't sure yet if the leadership would soon be taken on by Christopher Luxon, who is tipped to be the next in line.

"I think it's much too early to say," she said. 

"I think the Nats have to ask 'why did we lose?' and be really honest about themselves, and 'what is the purpose?', 'what is the kaupapa now of the National Party?'"

On Saturday's election night, Williams said he was "absolutely delighted" with the result and put it down to Labour's campaign manager Hayden Munro. 

He said Munro ran a "flawless" campaign and was completely different from the National campaign which saw Collins "attack fat people" and u-turn on wealth tax three weeks before the election.

Sherson said she thought there were "two bits of really good news" for New Zealanders to come out of the election.

"Number one that we got out in force to vote - over 82 percent which is amazing. I think when the demographics are broken down based on registered voters, a lot of young people would have turned out which is awesome. 

"But the other big point which is really heartening is that there is an opportunity now for business to surprisingly be in the drivers' seat with a Labour government of this strength. Because the focus is now, you heard the Prime Minister say on Saturday night  - that the focus is on economic recovery. Well, that has to come from business. Government can set the rules of the road but business will do the heavy lifting."