John Armstrong writes about Simon Power’s surprise resignation, its impact on the National Party and the likely successor to John Key:
And the next leader of the National Party is … well, step up to the mark, Steven Joyce. If John Key stepped down tomorrow, the only other viable candidate just ruled himself out.
My assumption is that Judith Collins will replace Key as National leader, and since Collins is a dangerous sociopath Steven Joyce would be a big improvement. But as Transport Minister he’s waged a jihad against improving public transport in our largest city while approving the construction of massive new roading projects all during a period of soaring petrol prices, so I don’t think he’d be a particularly impressive party leader or Prime Minister.
[Power’s] departure is a major loss for National. Articulate, competent and fastidious to a fault, Power is also blessed with a high degree of common sense – a commodity which tends to evaporate once someone is in the Beehive.
He was touted as a future leader. But while National has been odds-on to win this year’s election, 2014 will be more difficult. If National lost, it would mean Opposition again, possibly for two terms.
As leader, that would mean it would be 2020 before Power got the keys to Premier House.
I don’t know why Power resigned, but nine years isn’t really that long to wait to become Prime Minister – and I don’t think senior politicians make these kind of base calculations about their own careers anyway. Their self-confidence is such that they assume they can drive history before them, win the next election no matter the odds etc.
Max Weber famously described politics as ‘the slow boring of boards’. It doesn’t have to be – a politician can ‘show true courage’ and ‘rush through radical reforms’, but in a complex modern democracy they tend to create more problems than they solve, provoke a backlash and lead to unpopularity and strengthen your opponents who can then sweep to power with a mandate to undo much of your work. Power seems to realise that meaningful reform must be considered, managed, achieved through consensus if possible, and made to endure. So I can see why he doesn’t want to spend the next decade of his life ‘slowly boring boards’.