Hide on Judith Collins’ leadership bid

Rodney Hide’s Sunday Herald column is on Judith Collins making a bid from the backbench for leadership of National – Crusher throwing her hat in the ring.

The tom-toms are beating and, as incredible as it may sound, around National Party campfires the leadership of New Zealand’s most popular Prime Minister is being questioned.

The questions are sparked by Judith Collins asking the oldest political question of them all: “Why not me?”

I’ll jump straight to Hide’s punch line.

Hers is an excellent plan on paper. To effect it Collins needs the support of her colleagues. But here’s where she falls short. She hasn’t any.

So she’s making a bid hoping that support will swing behind her.

Whether part of the plan or not Cameron Slater has been trying to drive an anti-Key pro-Collins movement, and that won’t help Collins in getting National Caucus support. It’s likely to severely hinder it.

Some in National are getting annoyed, especially those who are against any attempt to allow the people of New Zealand to make choices about our flag.

But would they support a leadership overthrow and potentially lose their hold on Government for that?

Hide’s final words:

National MPs know when they are on to a winner. They have learned from Labour it’s very easy to trash leaders but very hard to replace them.

It’s even harder to replace them with a winning leader.

Collins/Slater power play or just a fundraiser?

It looks like Judith Collins and Cameron Slater are making a power play. Or two independent coincidental power plays.

Collins has been quietly trying to rebuild her political career after being demoted as a Minister leading into last year’s election, in no small part due to her friendly relationship with Slater.

In the meantime Slater has been increasingly critical of John Key’s leadership with what has seemed like daily attacks and sometimes multiple attacks a day in post at Whale Oil.

Collins has had a weekly column alongside Phil Goff. Until now she has written about general topics. But yesterday: Judith Collins: Centre voters just the core, the action is on the fringes:

Elections are never won or lost in the centre. Yes, the vast number of voters are in the centre but they won’t bother to change their vote (much less get out to vote) unless they actually have something to vote for. Mobilising the centre to move to the left or to the right, is what wins elections. If you want to stay in power, then the centre is what keeps you there.

Politicians of all stripes need to be fearless, creative, interested, questioning and most of all listening to the electorate. Polling goes to show the centre doesn’t really say much and therein lies the danger of the echo chamber. But the edges of the electorate are always talking.

Winning elections is about engaging people and actually presenting an alternative. Galvanising the centre to be interested enough to vote will not happen simply by prescribing more of the same, albeit with a different coloured tie.

Goff responded:

Judith’s column this week is the opening shot in her campaign to succeed John Key as National’s leader.

It’s a not-so-subtle attack on the well-known fact that John Key is not driven by strong values but rather the results of weekly polling and focus groups.

Judith is inviting you to contrast Key’s soft positions with her post-demotion outspokenness on issues.

You can’t blame her for that or for her antagonism towards Key. After all, he sacked her and is refusing to put her back into Cabinet.

Goff could be perceptive. Or he could be mischievous. Or both.

Matthew Hooton responded to a comment on this at The Standard:

“when it came to Phil Goff’s reply, Collins probably got a lot more than she expected”

I reckon she got exactly what she expected (and hoped for) from Goff.

Today at Politik it looks like Collins is busy getting her message out there in JUDITH COLLINS SAYS IT’S TIME FOR POLITICIANS TO STAND FOR SOMETHING.

She set out a summary of her views in the Sunday Star Times and one Labour politician did have something to say.

Phil Goff said the column sounded like the start of her campaign to become National leader.

But in a lengthy interview with POLITIK she chose her words carefully and avoided any head on challenge to the National Party leadership who have shunned her since she resigned from Cabinet over her connections with Whaleoil.

Nevertheless her message is clear.

“It’s better to make a difference than to sit in Parliament and occupy a seat,” she said.

“You are actually elected to do something.

“If you don’t do something then get out of the way and let someone else do it.”

She worries that the general public all round the world is sick and tired of politicians who say just what they think the electorate wants them to say.

“Actually ultimately you are never going to get anything done unless you change the status quo and you can’t do that from a position of fear or a position of let’s not rock the boat.”

She is suspicious of focus groups.

“The problem with focus groups is that you are asking them a question; you are defining what they can talk about and what they are interested in and sometimes I think you have just got to stand for something.”

She says she doesn’t use focus groups but relies on knocking on doors and what people tell her in her electorate office.

“In my electorate there are probably quite a lot of people who aren’t necessarily National voters but what they like is if you are straight up with them.”

It’s often claimed that John Key is guided by focus groups

Face to face contact is important but it can be self selecting – only people who want to talk will talk – and they can adjust what they say to suit their audience.

There will be many who will scrutinise the comments here and in the Sunday Star Times column for signs of dissidence, for some hint that as Mr Goff claimed, she has begun her campaign for the party leadership.

But what she is saying is more general than that.

It looks more like the beginning of what  may be a long debate defining what the post-Key National Party might look like.

Meanwhile, coincidence or not, Slater has been continuing his campaign. Yesterday his anti-Key posts continued: Losing our Religion – A letter from a reader…to John Key

The letter may or may not have been from ‘a reader’, it can be hard to tell on Whale Oil what’s genuine and what’s part of the campaigning and what’s paid for commentary. Slater added his own comments:

I’m not sure he is listening…but his minions are reading. Maybe the message will get through, either that or we will soon see a series of posts on cat fancier, arts, travel and lifestyle blogger, David Farrar’s blog about the stunning achievements of a John Key led government in a bid to counter “negative” posts here.

I am no sycophant and will tell things as I see them or as my readers emails.

Things aren’t right within National, they have allowed a cult of personality to develop and those never end well.

More posts generally criticise National.

He has followed that up today with specific references to the Collins publicity, first on her Stuff column in Judith Collins on Corbyn, and winning the centre.

This is the quiet changing of religion that I speak of…people turning off and not bothering because politics has become shades of brown and as appetising as cardboar

People get tired of the same old view of politicians and eventually they seek a change, any change, so long as it is not who we have now. They certainly don’t subscribe to TINA…that is the false hope of incumbents.

TINA is There is No Alternative, seen as one reason for Key’s sustained popularity, but Slater has been trying to establish a meme that there is an alternative – from within National. I wonder who he thinks that should be. Note that for some time he has strongly criticised Bill English,  Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett.

Then later today he posted on the Politik interview with Collins – Collins expands her discussion on the centre. In agreeing with Collins he said:

She’s dead right about that and MMP has created a situation where seat warmers are the politicians of the day. If you have a look at Helen Clark’s legacy it is nothing but banal social policy. John Key’s legacy is shaping up to be not much better, with the prospect of the flag being retained that particular dream is in tatters.


Straight shooters have always done well in New Zealand politics, and it is a shame that John Key has changed from that perception of a straight shooter to a perception that is much less than that.


What is funny though is the left wing getting all excited that Judith Collins will attempt to do what they have failed thus far to achieve…topple John Key. They should be careful what they wish for, because I doubt such an event would go well for them and their union pals.

So it is easy to see this as a two pronged attack on Key by Collins and Slater.

What sort of support would Collins have in the National Caucus? I don’t know.

But one this is for certain – she has a whale sized millstone hanging around her neck.

Eighteen months ago a campaign like this from Slater may have been seen as a serious threat. But his political credibility has plummeted.

I think a Slater orchestrated leadership bid is unlikely to cause anything but trouble for Collins. Sure it may damage National, and Slater has been trying to do that since he fell out of favour. But His alternative is unlikely to be looked on favourably.

Something not covered in Collins’ column yesterday nor in her Politik interview was whether she was being invoiced by Slater for his advice and his Whale Oil campaigning. This could be as more a fundraiser for him than a serious leadership bid.

Anyone as knowledgeable about politics as Slater claims to be (he was praising his predictive abilities last week, see the poor me/clever me post LOSING YOUR RELIGION) would know that  Slater+anything is currently seen as toxic.

And the Slater attacks on National don’t even seem overly popular at Whale Oil. From his Saturday diss Hooton: ‘Thanks John, time to move along now’ he explains his TINA theories:

John Key is still popular because people still believe in the false premise of TINA (There Is No Alternative).

Logic suggests that TINA is not valid. If John Key were to be mowed down by a bus driver on Lambton Quay on Monday morning it is certain that there would indeed be a replacement. When he does finally step down or is knifed, or gets voted out there will be an alternative. There is always an alternative…whether or not an alternative is apparent depends entirely on the vision of the person stating TINA.

The belief that TINA is real…suggests these people think John Key is immortal and can reign forever…neither are true…politically or in reality. There is always an alternative.

But if you have a look at the upticks on the comments in LOSING YOUR RELIGION it seems clear his audience isn’t captivated or convinced by Slater’s campaign.

Note: I’ve done a few edits and additions to this in the half hour after posting.

‘Sick and stupid attitude’

Sad but not surprising to see this responses like this to the issue Anne Tolley raised about people having babies in at risk situations from Anthony Robins at The Standard:

Nats and reproductive rights

The Nats are obsessed with the reproductive rights of those they deem “unfit”. Once again they are floating the idea of compulsory controls.

Are we still “not quite” at the stage of compulsion, or are the Nats going to cross that line? It’s obvious from their record that they have a thoroughly unhealthy obsession with the idea.

Why not make the very difficult issue of at risk children another political shit fight Anthony.

John Key “thinks” (despite all the evidence to the contrary) that parents on the DPB are “breeding for a business”. That kind of sick and stupid attitude can never be allowed to control reproductive rights.

That’s a link to a 2008 news report that says:

He has criticised Labour for its DPB policy, saying in 2002 that it had led to the situation “where people have been, for want of a better term, breeding for a business” – a statement Labour has since used against him.

Still using it against him over a decade later.

Talking of stupid attitudes Anthony, where are Labour’s solutions? That’s right, policy is next year’s project, trying to trash anything Key or the Government does or raises is this year’s strategy.

CYF has failed to adequately address the issue of large numbers of children being born into and living in high risk situations for several decades. Past Governments as well as the present Government have failed to make major improvements.

This deserves a serious discussion. At risk kids shouldn’t be used as a petty political football.

One thing that should be considered is whether any children are born as a result of perceptions of financial incentives by parents at high risk of harming their children (or putting them in situations where harm is likely).

The DPB is essential assistance for many mothers but that doesn’t rule out some misguided choices by mothers (and fathers) who are at risk of being poor parents.

But is the DPB a lifestyle choice for some? It is a question that shouldn’t be swept under a political rug.

Shitty political bitching, or prepared to look at some very difficult issues around children who have poor parents and crappy and high risk lives Anthony?

Paid Parental Bill praised but opposed by National

Sue Moroney and her second Paid Parental Leave bill were praised but opposed by National and ACT MPs, but it still passed it’s first reading last night by 61-60. UnitedFuture support paid parental leave so voted for this bill, along with Labour, Greens, NZ First and the Maori Party.

Most interesting was praise from National MPs and David Seymour, even though they opposed the bill.

SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill)

Although I do rise in opposition to this bill I am not ungracious to not acknowledge the work of Ms Sue Moroney in championing this topic. It is a very valid topic to bring to the House and I think it is a worthwhile debate.

 There are several published and documented outcomes on the benefits of paid parental leave. Of course, some of those include increased breastfeeding opportunities and all the health benefits that are associated with that.

As we are aware, breastmilk is a perfect food source for baby. It is made up of a correct compound of vitamins and proteins, and because of that extra time bonding it is easily digestible for baby and it helps prevent infections from bacteria and viruses.

That is one of the benefits of paid parental leave. I touched on it before—this time gives parents and mums that valued quality time to bond with baby.

Dowie goes on to praise other aspects of Paid Parental Leave, and concludes:

The intent of this bill and the spirit of this bill are good—I acknowledge that.

But she voted against it.

BRETT HUDSON (National):

 I rise in opposition to this bill, but before I might canvass the reasons why we will oppose the bill I would like to reiterate some comments that my colleague Sarah Dowie made. I would like to acknowledge what I think is a very, very clear, absolutely honest, and fundamentally based in integrity the position the member sponsoring this bill Sue Moroney has.

He concludes:

We will oppose this bill but I do commend Ms Moroney for her obviously deeply held views on this matter.

Anti-bill but not wanting to sound anti-mother and anti-baby perhaps.

The bill has passed it’s first reading and stands a good chance of successfully passing, but National have said they will use their power of veto based on cost.

Moroney had her first Paid Parental Leave Bill failed to pass but succeeded in pressuring National into increasing Parental Leave to a lesser extent, from 14 to 18 weeks.

ACT MP David Seymour has also played in negotiating increased paid leave for parents with high need babies, for example premature babies, but opposed this bill

All InTheHouse videos: Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment

Key versus Little – letters and crap

The flag debacle got worse today with John Key and Andrew Little squabbling over bottom lines or not, and letters and basically making arses of themselves over the Red Peak issue.

Key hasn’t managed this well but I’m particularly pissed off with Labour and Andrew Little who, despite having flag change as their party policy, have \ignored that and hypocritically played spoilers as much as the can throughout the process.

Scrapping the whole thing is a tempting feeling but that’s giving Labour a dirty victory.

Stuff reported: Andrew Little, John Key squabble over Red Peak flag meeting

NZ Herald: John Key and Andrew Little’s back and forth on Red Peak

This is crap. It’s supposed to be the people’s choice on whether we change our flag or not, a chance in a lifetime probably. But leaders of our major parties shit on the process to try and score cheap political points. Shame on them.

Little’s letter:

Key’s Letter:

Apparently Little has sent another letter. Whoopdy do. He should be showing he’s capable of actual leadership. If anything will put me off going back to voting for Labour it is this.

“Dumbest, most awful people”…”National’s backbench MPs”

Danyl Mclauchlan has posted about what he wishes would be done about the Syrian refugee crisis in State of play, but then turns that into a bitter diss of the National back bench.

I wish we could do more. But I think this is better than last week’s response to the crisis, which was to do nothing. I also think Key is doing this against the wishes of the majority of his caucus.

Print and most broadcast media have called for action on this issue but if you listen to even a few minutes of talkback radio, the sentiment there is overwhelmingly opposed to it. These aren’t refugees, the argument goes: they’re welfare bludging terrorists.

And the dumbest, most awful people on talkback are a useful barometer of what National’s backbench MPs think on any given issue.

Nothing to back that statement up, no names, no examples, just a general diss.

Bryce Edwards recently pointed out in A tale of two Governments:

In general, Key appears to be aware of the need to combat third-termitis. His attempt to rejuvenate the party while in power has been unequalled.

Today’s Cabinet of 20 contains only 11 ministers who have been there since the start. Even more starkly, five of the six ministers outside Cabinet are new. And the wider caucus has been refreshed. More than a quarter of the caucus are new MPs elected last year. A large proportion of the MPs are under 45 and, although still rather “male and pale”, the diversity of National is expanding under Key’s watch.

So regardless of how dumb and awful Mclauchlan thinks they are, they are being replaced and replenished.

How does this compare to Mclauchlan’s Greens?

One MP from 2011 dropped out, Holly Walker. That allowed for one change in the Green lineup, with James Shaw being the only fresh face. Mclauchlan helped his campaign to replace Russel Norman as co-leader.

The Greens may not get much support from radio talkback – and it’s arguable how much National gets from there either, they tend to be unhappy with everything and every party – but I think it would be unfair to compare the Green MPs with some of the more vocal and extreme Green supporters in social media.

Pressure on refugees

John Key is under pressure to do something soon on the Syrian refugee problem.

All the Government support parties are pushing for action.

Helen Clark is nudging tujings – NZ Herald reports Helen Clark urges PM to follow her on refugees.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has revealed she asked Prime Minister John Key to follow the example she set with the Tampa refugees when trying to address the Syria problem.

Responding to a question on Twitter about what she had told Mr Key on the issue: Helen Clark replied “Think Tampa.”

In 2001 when she was Prime Minister, Helen Clark agreed to take 150 Afghan refugees rescued from a fishing boat off the coast of Australia by the Norwegian container ship Tampa.

She has since described that as one of her proudest moments as Prime Minister.

Some current Labour MPs have used that as an example of the need to increase the refugee quota, although the Tampa refugees were brought in as part of the quota of 750 refugees rather than in addition to it.

Labour and the Greens are going to try bills to push for more than a token bump within the quota.

Mr Little said Labour would put up a bill to allow an extra 750 refugee places for Syrian refugees over the next year on top of the usual 750 quota for refugees.

A one off doubling of refugees in a single year will probably be challenging to manage.

A separate Green Party bill would permanently lift the quota to 1000.

That seems like a reasonable suggestion but it’s more symbolic, there isn’t a great urgency on it, the quota is up for review next year anyway.

It may have played to the media and political pressure this week but a rushed reaction would not have been sensible. The Government should be having a good look at available options.

Mr Key has also indicated he will now consider taking urgent action on Syrian refugees after earlier saying it would have to wait until a review next year – something that is likely to be discussed at Cabinet on Monday alongside further financial aid for the countries near Syria with refugee camps.

More aid for the millions of refugees in various countries makes sense. It’s something that can help do some good quickly.

While I think New Zealand should consider taking a one off increase in Syrian refugees that’s not something that can be done overnight. A process has to be worked thriough with the UN, and there has to be refugees who would meet our requirements and who want to come to New Zealand.

Just because some people here insist something should be done immediately doesn’t mean it’s practical or possible.

But Key has no choice but to be seen to be addressing concerns and demands in some practical way.

The pressure on doing something about refugees will continue, but there’s no quick fix for Kiwi consciences.

Those who do want something done about it immediately can donate to the many agencies involved in helping the refugees in and around Syria.

Insisting on compassion using other people’s money is easy, putting money into aid coukd actually help.

Maurice Williamson past his use-by date

Maurice Williamson has again embarrassed himself and National. NZ Herald reports:

Backlash builds as MP offers apologies

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, who was once lauded for his “big gay rainbow” speech in support of same-sex marriage, has now come under fire from gay and women’s advocates for a speech considered homophobic and sexist.

Guests of the Esri Users Conference gala dinner at SkyCity last Tuesday have revealed that Mr Williamson’s comments during his MC spot had people “removing themselves from the room”. Guests complained that Mr Williamson made “sexist” jokes and comments about scantily clad women, and played an audio clip that disparaged women and gay men.

Mr Williamson yesterday apologised for the offence he had caused.

“I was asked to be as entertaining and as funny as I possibly could. It was never my intention to upset any delegates. I overstepped the line on the night and did cause offence. For that I unreservedly apologise.”

At least he has offered a proper sort of apology.

His time as an MP must be just about up. He is past being any use to Natiomal and has become a liability.

It has been suggested for some time that Williamson may try for the Auckland mayoralty. NZ Herald also reports Maurice Williamson had been set to announce Auckland mayoralty plans.

Maurice Williamson, whose controversial speech to an IT conference has sparked complaints about “sexist jokes, was set to announce his plans for the Auckland mayoralty shortly, says a National Party source.

The source did not know if the Pakuranga MP intended to stand.

“He has been entertaining delegations from different people over the past few months and said the first week of September was when he would announce he was in or out,” the source said.

Next Monday – September 7 – Mr Williamson is due to speak on local transport issues at a public meeting in Pakuranga.

Howick councillor Dick Quax said he could use the event to announce he is going to run for mayor.

Mr Quax said Mr Williamson did not usually speak on local matters.

“I have spoken to Maurice in conversational tone about whether he may be interested in the Auckland mayoralty and I don’t think it is any secret he has said he was interested.

“He has made that pretty clear in the past,” Mr Quax said.

In 2013, Mr Williamson toyed with standing but abandoned any bid for the mayoralty.

After this latest stuff-up it might be prudent of Williamson to abandon any bid for the mayoralty for 2016.

And it would be sensible for him to stand aside in Pakuranga and make way for a modern MP. Williamson is past his political use-by date.

Refuge quotas – a little will help some people a lot

Pressure is building on the Government to increase our refuge quota from a level of 750 set in 1997.

All parties other than National have stated support for an increase as a refuge crisis grows around Syria and in Europe. John Key wants to kick the can down the road, saying the number will be up for review in 2016.

Each of National’s support partners want an increase.

  • UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne said the Government had “got it wrong” on the refugee issue. There was a strong case for lifting New Zealand’s annual refugee quote to at least 1000, Dunne said. That was “the very least” New Zealand could do as a good international citizen, Dunne said.
  • Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said New Zealand could afford to take on more refugees as part of its global citizenship, and the Maori Party thought the yearly quota should increase from 750 to 1000. “We want to be sure we are able to cater for the people that come in – we call that manaakitanga – are we able to care for them and their needs?”
  • ACT leader David Seymour said he would not pick a number for how many refugees New Zealand should accept, but as a principle said the quota should be “pegged to our ability to support refugees”. It could be pegged to population – which would have it somewhere between 1000 and 1100, Seymour said.

What New Zealand can do is always only going to be a small drop in an ocean of humanity searching for a safe place to live.

Lebanon has a similar populatio to New Nealand but due to proximity to Syria have been burdened with 1.2 million refuges. That’s a huge influx, proportionally.

Germany is set to accept 800,000 refuges this year – but that could blow out with the increasing pressure of refuges currently on the move.

Increasing our quota from 750 to 1,000 won’t make a huge difference overall, but it may make a huge difference for 250 people. It’s a little to ask of a country that has the advantage of distance and a huge moat in protecting ourselves from people desperate to re-settle somewhere safe.

An all out light bulb campaign?

Tracey Watkins seems to think that truth doesn’t matter, all that’s important is getting dirt to stick.

National’s health and safety legislation its lightbulb moment

National’s health and safety legislation has turned into a running gag and political liability on the scale of Labour’s fart tax, and lightbulb ban.

And frankly, after the worm farm debacle, people will believe the worst.

Labour was swept out of power in 2008 on the back of a backlash against measures perceived as “nanny state”, some of which were equal parts myth.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

The health and safety legislation was borne out of the best of intentions in the wake of the Pike River mining disaster.

But politics have intervened.

It has become a runnimg gag because media are running the gag for the Opposition.

The Opposition are hardly innocent of playing politics with the issue, of course – but they are just doing what Opposition parties do best, and making hay while the sun shines.

Time will tell whether the latest attempts to damage Key and National have been successful or not.

The gags keep coming.

School playgrounds – some people believe they the next victims of the health and safety legislation.

“Some people believe” meaning Labour MPs and their allies in the education  sector are doing their best to make people believe them.

It no longer matters whether it is true or not that school playgrounds will have to close thanks to the Government’s health and safety laws.

Or whether it is true that school camps will be banned, outdoor games are under threat, or that people will have to wear a harness while using a ladder.

It’s enough that people believe it.

That’s a terrible commentary on how our politics and media works.

As for the legislation banning bullrush or school play grounds as claimed on Wednesday? A Google search suggests this is hardly the first time the Bullrush shroud has been waved.

It seems to have been banned many times over the years in response to various laws or legal precedents.

As for school camps, they were already under scrutiny after the deaths of an instructor and two pupils who drowned off New Plymouth’s Paritutu Rock while taking part in an outdoor education centre programme.

The Outdoor Education Centre was found liable and ordered to pay almost $270,000 in reparations – enough to make any school nervous about their liability in the event of another tragedy.

But National will carry the can regardless. Because the legislation is now seen as so flawed, any claim will stick

The voting and polled public have been proved wrong time and time again during the seven years of the Key Government.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

Labour’s strategy seems to be based on finding and promoting the small thing that breaks National’s hold on power.

Buit there’s a major problem with this. National’s support keeps holding up despite many embarassments and hiccups = because the alternative is seen as a worse option.

Labour have quite a way to go to make national seem worse than Labour. Especially if they keep lowering the standard.

For every Natiomal light bulb moment Labour highlight they keep showing they don’t have any idea how to turn the power on their own.


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