Former National MP Chris Finlayson defends 'little outburst' over party's 'atrocious candidate selections'

Chris Finlayson has defended his recent comments saying the National Party is self-destructing and deserves "everything that's come to them".

The former National MP recently told Stuff the party was guilty of self-inflicted "brand destruction" over recent years, and said it needed to get back to its roots of liberal conservatism if it wanted to have any chance of getting back into power.

When asked about those comments on Newshub Nation on Saturday, Finlayson admitted he had the "subtlety of a sledgehammer" but said he stood by what he said.

"Look, I admit, as Grant Robertson said, there wasn't a hell of a lot of empathy there," he told Newshub Nation.

"But the point I was making was twofold - one, and I'm reflecting the views of many, many views in the National Party, they're sick of the division, they're sick of the leaks. They have to realise that they are a team and once they start acting like a team they'll do very well. So that's sort of a self-evident point.

"The second point I made was related to the decision by the board to make certain candidate selections that have revolted people up and down the country - and you'd be surprised by the comments that have been made to me since I had my little outburst."

The reaction he had received from National Party members and former MPs were comments like "oh thank God someone said it", Finlayson said.

"Because people were very, very angry that the brand was harmed by some selections that were very poor."

His comments come after a string of resignations from National candidates in recent years who have been accused of inappropriate behaviour. 

The most recent case involved Jake Bezzant, who ran in the Upper Harbour electorate in 2020. He resigned last month after his ex-girlfriend alleged he had impersonated her online and engaged in online sex as her. He joined the growing club of National candidates and MPs - such as Andrew Falloon, Hamish Walker and Todd Barclay - who have also stepped down in recent years following scandals.

The party has also faced a number of leadership changes since former leader Simon Bridges was ousted last year in place of Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller.

Muller served less than three months in the job before current leader Judith Collins took over the party's leadership just months before the 2020 general election.

According to the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll in May, Collins' popularity has plummeted in recent months, but Finlayson said she can't be blamed for all of the party's woes.

"It's not a question of Judith Collins' leadership - it's a question of culture in the caucus and the board being responsible for some atrocious candidate selections," he told Newshub Nation.