Not for a second do I believe that David Clark has come to this resignation decision by himself.
I believe he was told by more senior figures in the party to resign.
If he really had made the decision to resign of his own volition, that resignation would’ve happened last week, the very minute he realised how angry New Zealand was that he’d thrown Ashley Bloomfield under the bus.
Today, we’re eight days on from that. We’ve been talking about everything other than David Clark: Team New Zealand, Auckland water, cannabis referendum. The David vs Ashely story’s largely blown over. There was no compelling reason to resign today.
But more importantly, the reason I don’t believe it is because on Monday I was told there were moves afoot to force David Clark to resign.
I was told more senior members of government and former senior MPs were involved in a bid to strike a deal with him.
I’m told they realised the damage his snafu was doing to them in the polls, and decided to cut him loose.
And if you want to know what a political deal looks like, read Judith Collins’ book where she tells how John Key forced her to quit and maybe come back as a minister in a year. What did the PM say today? Clark might be allowed back as a minister after the election.
Meantime, the PM says David Clark is a distraction. Yes, he is.
But not the kind of distraction she means. The PM says he is a distraction from the pandemic response. But that is not really what he’s distracting from. He’s an election distraction.
Having him there, fronting up as Health Minister for countless Covid-related announcements between now and the election would only continue to remind the public of two of the most awkward things in this government:
One: the PM doesn’t have what it takes to fire disappointing MPs. Like with Claire Curran, she prefers for them to resign
And two, the team behind the PM and Grant Robertson are mostly pretty useless
And David Clark is the epitome of useless in that role. He broke his own rules mountain-biking, he broke his own rules going to the beach, he wasn’t in Wellington for the biggest health crisis in a century, he flew to Australia while the nurses’ strike was on, he couldn’t’ answer basic health questions half the time.
David Clark going is exactly what needed to happen to avoid constantly drawing attention to all of that.
What baffles me is that it took them eight days to engineer this transparent push, instead of the PM simply having the courage and the judgement to fire him days ago.