Former National MP Chris Finlayson hits out at party's leadership, 'brand destruction'

Ex-MP Chris Finlayson says the way his former National Party has carried itself in the past two years is "brand destruction".

National has been plagued by internal issues since former leader Simon Bridges was ousted last year when Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller initiated a leadership coup. Muller lasted less than three months in the job and will resign from politics at election 2023. 

Judith Collins took over the National leadership from Muller just 13 weeks out from election 2020 and it's been far from a smooth ride. National suffered a devastating defeat at the polls and several scandals have emerged since - including the fiasco around veteran MP Nick Smith's retirement and allegations a former candidate impersonated ex-partners online. 

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll in May revealed Collins had tumbled down the preferred Prime Minister rankings, scraping just 5.6 percent compared to Jacinda Ardern's 48.1 percent. Collins has said she has no plans to step down. 

"Now I know sometimes, you know, brands go off, but I've never seen brand destruction like I've seen in the National Party in the last year or two," Finlayson told Stuff.

"You're talking to the wrong person if you expect me to express any sympathy for the current plight of the National Party, they deserve everything that's come to them."

In the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, Collins dropped 12.8 points as preferred Prime Minister - ranked even below former PM Sir John Key. 

Finlayson told Stuff he was unimpressed by National's present rhetoric.

"[The National Party] is going through its agonies at the moment because of the failure of the president and the leadership, the board leadership of the party to address very simple questions about candidate vetting and candidate selection."

Speaking to The AM Show in May, Collins said she wasn't worried about recent polling.

"The fact is that it's 2.5 years out from an election and it's not much different from another news agency's poll in March -  it's not particularly a big surprise."

She said she had no plans to step down as the leader.

"That's not something I am even contemplating. I am actually really enjoying the job, the Caucus is extremely supportive and we have our work cut out holding the Government to account."