So Judith Collins was on the radio this morning, using the only political strategy in her toolbox for defense, which is of course to attack back.
I mentioned briefly in a footnote that in a couple of moments of extreme hubris, pre-Trump, I had expressed the view that I could only wish that the National Party would make Ms. Collins leader/Prime Minister, as it would practically guarantee their loss. Post-Trump we should probably be very careful about such sentiments, even if Collins is lacking a couple of the key ingredients to Trump’s success. (namely, she’s had a long career as a politician and sounds like a politician, and she doesn’t speak the language of economic populism)
While I will now promise to shut up about Dirty Politics if she becomes PM, I think it’s arguably worth throwing the kitchen sink at her during this week-long selection by the National Party, just so that all the relevant attacks against her are written down. I promise I won’t deep-dive into issues that are old, even if they are being a little resurrected by the media today. If you want the details, you should really buy Hager’s book. He is a serious journalist and doesn’t post things that aren’t backed up by facts, regardless of what the National Party tries to say.
So, what’s wrong with Collins?
- She doesn’t seem to understand compromise. Her relevant modes are full attack and say nothing. There is no evidence that she can behave like a stateswoman, and she has never conceded to a mistake in her entire political career. She says she’s willing to work with Peters as PM, but doing so would actually require ceding some ground to him, and she’s shown no evidence that such negotiations are in her wheelhouse.
- She would be Prime Minister of the National Party, not of New Zealand. There is no evidence she is interested in growing her constituency.
- She is a bully, maintained an enemies list, and it seems likely that as PM she would be a hostile manager at best.
- She incorrectly claims to have been cleared of the Oravida scandal in the Chisholm Report. That report was a narrow investigation into whether she undermined the head of the Serious Fraud Office, and essentially just an excuse to stand her down to limit National’s exposure to Hager’s criticisms. She was not cleared by any independent inquiry over her conflict of interest, in fact objectively she failed to meet ministerial standards of ethical behaviour so I’m not sure how she could have been cleared even if such an investigation were to have taken place. If you’re not capable of behaving to the ethical standard required of a minister, you shouldn’t even be considered for PM.
- She has admitted that she still maintains contact with Cameron Slater, which ought to be a black mark against any potential PM. (Not that this makes her any worse than Key, who also colluded with his attack politics)
- Unlike the other candidates, she doesn’t even seem capable of pretending to empathy. National has always had an empathy deficit in policy, and has needed its leader to be perceived as a compassionate conservative who can ensure that government cares about the ordinary voter. Collins doesn’t do nice.
- She can’t name a single MP who will publicly support her. Acts like she is protecting their privacy instead. If she doesn’t even have Joyce on her side, she’s done for.
- Collins is basically Dolores Umbridge after the nice facade has fallen. (in fact, there are some pretty decent memes out there pointing out the visual similarity, too)
Overall, there’s much to hate. Don’t support Collins, not even ironically. The men in the race right now are opportunity enough for the opposition to become the government, we don’t need to expose the country to almost a year of Judith Collins, PM.