Former National Party MP Chris Finlayson said the National Party is destroying itself under the current leadership (file photo).
Former National Minister Chris Finlayson has criticized the current National Party as a disaster, blaming it squarely on the leadership – both in Parliament and the broader party organisations.
He says the party leadership “deserves everything that comes to them” after the “brand destruction” they have imposed on themselves over the past two years.
The comments will put more pressure on party leader Judith Collins who already faces internal scrutiny over the resignations of former Representative Nick Smith, and current Bay of Plenty Representative, short-lived party leader Todd Mueller. They will also step up pressure on current party chairman Peter Goodfellow.
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Finlayson, who served as a MP for the National Party from 2008 to 2019 and held a number of cabinet portfolios, was scathing in his assessment of the current party. Speaking from his law office in Auckland, he said the party needed no critic because it was doing well enough to destroy itself.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen brand destruction in such devastation,” he said.
“Now I know sometimes, you know, brands explode, but I’ve never seen brand destruction like I’ve seen in the National Party in the past year or two.”
Finlayson described the party’s current rhetoric as unimpressive and said it needed to return to its liberal-conservative roots if it was to work its way out of electoral stagnation.
Finlayson also said he had no sympathy with the party’s current state.
“You are talking to the wrong person if you expect me to express any sympathy for the current plight of the NDP, they deserve everything that comes to them.
“Put that in your article: they deserve everything they have,” he said.
Political parties will have to feel the cold puff of opposition before they can gain the humility to take over government again. But if you ask me to express their sympathy for them, forget about it.”
In particular, Finlayson said he was “disturbed” by the string of mistakes that the party apparatus had clearly made during many of the candidate selection processes. He did not reveal the list of names he thought were unworthy, but made it clear that some should never have been nominated.
His comments follow the resignations of failed lawmakers over several years, including Todd Barclay (secret tape recordings), Hamish Walker (leaking confidential patient data) and Andrew Fallon (sending obscene pictures to women).
At the beginning of June, Jake Besant, the former National Party Safe Seat candidate in Upper Harbor, was also in the spotlight for his treatment of women and previously faced questions about the accuracy of his resume.
He described the selection of the nominee as one of the many failures at National.
“[The National Party] He is going through his pain at the moment due to the failure of the president and the leadership, and the leadership of the party board to address very simple questions about candidate screening and selection.”
Finlayson said the party’s failures were partly due to the fact that they stopped working adequately on the party’s reforms introduced after the 2002 defeat in which the party received only 20 percent of the vote.
This is where the party’s problems have been for the past 12 months. And when they learn to work on the reforms, enacted in the aftermath of the 2002 disaster, and come back to realize that first, you need good candidates, and they must be properly financially and psychologically screened.
“Once that’s done, once you have a Liberal Conservative party, which isn’t some kind of frenzied radical conservative or liberal, but a mixture of both, you’ll have your recipe for success again.”
A spokesman for Judith Collins declined to comment.