Is there anyone left who thinks Judith Collins is a future PM?
If you were still unsure last week then Friday’s outburst about Siouxsie Wiles surely decided things for you. That was unbecoming of a PM in waiting. Regardless of what Dr Wiles did or didn’t do, Kiwis do not like it when our politicians punch down or launch personal attacks. We expect our PMs to be statesmanlike and that was anything but.
If you were still in Camp Collins, welcome to reality. The rest of accepted Collins is not a future PM a long time ago: either because of the shouting match with the young interviewer on Breakfast, or the weird decision to pray in front of cameras during the election campaign, or the apparently vengeful decision recently to demote Chris Bishop during a lockdown even though he’s one of National’s best performers.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to roll Collins just yet. I don’t think Friday’s outburst changes anything about when she should be rolled. I still think next year is better than this year
There were commentators at the weekend arguing it’s now urgent that National cuts Collins, mainly because the government needs to be held to account during a crisis like this.
And fair argument. But isn’t that already happening? I’d argue ACT and Chris Bishop and Erica Stanford are doing a great job of that.
Frankly, the middle of a covid crisis is a huge political risk for any National party leader. Just look at what the first lockdown did to Simon Bridges, who has been proven right on most things he said at the time.
People become irrational during an outbreak and start believing crazy things like the borders need to stay closed forever. How can you talk sense as a political party leader if that’s the kind of irrational reaction people have to covid.
So, if you do roll Collins this year, how do hold the government to account and give them gypo for their mistakes, without irrational, fearful people hating you for and labelling you destructive? David Seymour can do it because he attracts 1 in every 8 voters at the moment. It’s a lot harder for the National Party leader, trying to attract 1 in every two voters.
Really, the real opposition to Labour is not National or ACT. It’s Covid. If Labour handle this outbreak well people will reward them. If they don’t, people will be grumpy at them. And there’s not really a lot an Opposition leader can change about that.
I think the smartest thing for any future national leader in that caucus right now is to sit this outbreak out and know that we all know Judith Collins is just keeping the seat warm.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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