Where is National going?
Key will probably be made leader if the chances of National winning the next election are not close to assured with Brash on board. In attempt to appear "centrist" and to "soften down" Nationals' supposedly "hard image", he'll remove all principle from the party. In hints of what they'd said about reaching out to ethnic minorities, they'll probably campaign that affirmative action or "closing the gaps" is still necessary - we'll just "reform it". All sorts of special interests will keep their Government-granted privileges because they'll be too afraid to offend anyone. Public services ala David Cameron will be too special to touch. In the end they'll probably be elected and play it safe.
What exactly is the point of being in politics if you're not in there to further your ideology? If the whole point is to get into power, you're just an opportunist who wouldn't care what party you were in. If you want to get the other party out of power, if both parties are trying that out, there's nothing scary about them anymore in the first place.
Most "moderates" or "centrists" are not that because they have an open mind to good policy. It basically means they vote whichever side offers them the biggest carrot. I'd say most voters are a somewhat paradoxical "Progressive Reactionary" otherwise. They want a Government that "gets things done", i.e. spends a few million here and there on their favourite special interest, cuts a ribbon here and there, gets involved just enough so they can take credit for "running the economy". On the other hand, they don't want things to change much, they'd prefer the status quo.
Looking back through history it's patently obvious that people don't have principles set in stone based on much anything but the status quo. What if slavery was solved by "moderate" politicians who tried to please everyone by giving a miniscule amount of extra rights to slaves? You'd be able to keep everything running smoothly but you've gotten absolutely nowhere in abolishing something injust. Roger Douglas didn't use a crowd-pleasing approach. You may get turfed for office in anger but now that the status quo had been changed, few actively suggest going back to where it was before. Support for the Monarchy or Maori seats still remains high because they're the status quo, not necessarily due to the merits of the ideas. I'm quite sure that if they never existed support to implement them would be far smaller than the support to abolish them now is. Democracy is very short-sighted. Whatever you do now without majority support against will often have large support for it to remain in the future.