Barry Soper: Few political hit jobs have been so badly executed

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Nov 2021, 6:42PM
Judith Collins. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Judith Collins. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Barry Soper: Few political hit jobs have been so badly executed

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Nov 2021, 6:42PM

It was like a script straight from the Pink Panther and the bumbling French Inspector Jacques Clouseau. 

The Inspector in this case was Judith Collins in her finals hours of being the leader of the National Party, wandering around with a loaded weapon. She missed her foot and instead shot herself in the head. 

Few political hit jobs have been so badly executed, for that's what it was. 

Few around parliament, including Collins, had any doubt that Simon Bridges was planning a comeback.  The biography he recently published was in effect his manifesto to show us that he was more than his accent. 

Ironically, he was down at a bookshop in Wellington signing his comeback document when Collins was writing what she thought would be his death warrant. 

The email she sent out at 9.24pm on Wednesday blindsided everyone it seems, except for her deputy Shane Reti, her advisor who should be fired, and if you believe her, the National Party's board, although her actions seemed news to them. 

She claimed in her Emaelstrom that she had the unanimous support of the board for demoting Bridges for "serious misconduct" relating to his interaction with a caucus colleague.   The board says it's not their job to approve the demotion of any MP and no penalties or actions were ever discussed.  They simply supported the first step in seeking further information from the parties, that's Waitaki MP Jacques Dean and Bridges. 

The conversation happened five years ago outside an all-day caucus meeting during a lunch break at Premier House in Wellington when Dean happened to overhear Bridges' locker room talk about how to conceive a girl. 

Dean complained and Bridges was reprimanded by the then Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. He was clearly surprised by her being upset and apologised and clearly thought it was the end of the matter. 

Collins claims she was just made aware of the "seriousness of the complaint" for the first time and wrote that under her leadership the party wouldn't tolerate "harassment and intimidation" of any person. 

Oh please! 

Dean says it played on her mind and that all of us should have a clear understanding of what behaviour we should expect in a modern workplace environment.    Publicity around this, she opined, has been upsetting and she wants privacy. 

Perhaps she should have told Collins that before agreeing to publicly ride shotgun for her. 

In the end she didn't have to because the gun was turned on Collins as the Nats circled the wagons. 

Next Tuesday they will decide her replacement. 

Simon Bridges, he now appears to have burnt them. 

Mark Mitchell who will have to do better than the last time he had a crack and last the distance. 

Christopher Luxon, a political rookie but a business heavyweight. 

For one of them it'll be a tough task, if they make it to the next election, they will have served longer than the last four National leaders.