The subtlety and nuance of electoral success was on display over the weekend at the National Party AGM.
You most likely missed it, given my sense of matters politically is we are well and truly over it. It was a long election campaign, in a long and painful year, and we have an eye on Christmas. So, what parties that aren't in government are up to is not exactly bringing the nation to a halt.
But for National these next two years are about the rebuild. By way of a starting point, we got some advice from Party President Peter Goodfellow and former leader Sir John Key.
Both made separate and distinct points, and yet both were right in their assessments.
Sir John's was that Jacinda Ardern is not to be underestimated, because Labour made the same mistake with Key. People would get sick of him, and they didn’t. That's flattering to Ardern because my assessment would be Sir John was a better operator with a great deal more experience, both in life, business, skill, and experience brings resilience and strength.
But the broad point is valid. People like Ardern and she may end up as Teflon as he was.
Goodfellow's point was Labour got lucky with Covid, turned the one o'clock briefings into a dictatorship. And despite all the cock ups and delivery issues, on balance we were scared, locked up at home, but free of the virus, so we voted for the lot that gave us that.
Add to the fact that National was a mess, and the result wasn’t much of a surprise.
Sir John's other point I hope they take up, is if you can't quit leaking, quit the party.
The self-indulgence still astonishes me. The weirdos like Jami-Lee Ross and Andrew Falloon made them look nutty, and the less said about Todd Muller and his aspirations, the better. But by the time you add it all together, it's hardly a group that inspires faith or confidence.
So as Sir John pointed out, there were about 400,000 voters who left National and landed in Labour's tent. Some of them because of Covid, some of them because of the shambles at base camp.
But here is where the hope is. One, National have been here before, in fact worse in 2002. Two, Labour, if you look at them impartially, aren't up to much and Covid will be gone next election. Three, National have stuck with Judith Collins for stability, and get Shane Reti in who looks like a deputy not a coup plotter. Four, the weirdos have been jettisoned. Five, time fixes a lot of stuff. Six, politics is about cycles.
In other words, their time will come again, all they need to do is be ready.
That bit is up to them, it's not rocket science.