7 Nov 2020

Brownlee taking rap for campaign failures - commentator

3:54 pm on 7 November 2020

A former National Party staffer isn't surprised Gerry Brownlee has fallen on his sword and resigned as deputy leader of the party.

National's Covid-19 border response spokesperson Gerry Brownlee  announces the second part of the party's border security plan.

Gerry Brownlee is the fall guy for the failures in National's election campaign, a commentator believes. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

In a statement yesterday Brownlee said his focus would now be on rebuilding National's base in Christchurch and representing the party's voters there.

Brownlee lost his Ilam seat to Labour's Sarah Pallet at the election last month.

He also was the campaign manager for the party.

Political commentator Ben Thomas said someone had to take a hit for National's abysmal election results.

"The caucus would be expecting some level of recognition of the level of failure in the National Party campaign," he said.

Thomas said it would be too disruptive if leader Judith Collins was to resign and Brownlee's leaving looks to be a compromise.

"It was very much [his] call," Thomas said.

"Gerry Brownlee has been a terrific servant of the National Party over the years. The standing he has in that caucus means that whatever [they] were feeling as a whole in terms of sentiment towards him continuing, he would have been able to make that decision himself."

The party needed to replace him with someone who can manage the caucus and is good at fronting the public, Thomas said.

"If National was really looking to break with some of the perceptions about it from before the election, they may look at someone like Shane Reti, who has been a good public performer and presents a fresh face for the leadership."

However, Reti hadn't yet proved himself as someone who could "marshal the troops", Thomas said, adding that the party will have a lot to think about before the leadership announcement on Tuesday.

Shadow cabinet won't be announced before new deputy

National leader Judith Collins said she needs to know who her new deputy is before finalising her shadow cabinet line-up.

The full caucus will meet at Parliament on Tuesday and vote on leadership positions and whips.

Collins said she needs to continue discussions with MPs about what roles they will each hold and she will make an announcement of the line-up and portfolios next week.

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