If you’re a centre right voter hoping against hope that National’s going to get its act together, this week suggests you might need to start thinking about plan B.
It always going to be tough-going for National to have a serious shot at the next election, but after two resignations in a week I’d say their odds just got that much longer.
Simply because they are wasting valuable rebuild time on continuing to trash their own brand.
Brands take a long time to build, and the clock starts again when you have something as repulsive as an alleged sex scandal and questions over whether the leader has engineered the resignation of veteran MP Nick Smith, who himself is facing bullying allegations.
So the clock has just started again for National, which means they’ve lost seven months of rebuilding time.
That leaves them just short of two and a half years to the next election. That’s not a long time when you have a brand that is now as toxic as National’s brand is.
And make no mistake, National is the most toxic brand in parliament right now.
There are those die-hards who will probably hope someone in National will be able to pull a Jacinda Ardern, sweep in months or weeks before the election and change the party’s fortunes.
But Jacinda Ardern didn’t take over the leadership of a party suffering this kind of brand damage.
As hopeless as Labour was, at least Andrew Little had spent two and half years tidying the place up.
During his time – as far as I can remember – there were no sex scandals, and while knifing was definitely going on (Annette King was knifed out of the deputy leadership) it was hidden from public view.
National has a shed load of work to do before 2023 without this nonsense going on.
They have to find and back a credible leader, they have to promote a credible team around that person, they have to prepare considered and popular policies, they have to explain to Kiwis what their vision for a better New Zealand is, they have to attract and choose better candidates, they have attract donations, they have prosecute this government and draw headlines to its shortcomings.
That is only a fraction of what’s needed.
So, if National is hoping for a chance at the next election, then they can’t afford any more weeks like this.
Because not even a Hail Mary pass like Jacinda Arden gave Labour seems likely to save them in 2023.