I started thinking back about whether New Zealand had had anything in our recent political history to compare with the current British farce. The answer is we haven’t had anything on the scale of four prime ministers in six years within the governing party. Here is our nearest equivalent:
The next Prime Minister to be forced out was Sidney Holland who clearly hoped to fight the general election in 1957. But he was losing his memory. His cabinet ministers visited him and obliged him to announce his retirement in August that year. However, Holland took so long to go that Keith Holyoake, his successor, had only a few weeks as Prime Minister before losing the election to Walter Nash.
Restless colleagues attempted to push Prime Minister Robert Muldoon out of office in October 1980. But their chosen replacement, Brian Talboys, refused to run. Muldoon eyeballed the “colonels” who had instigated the attempted coup and it faded away, leaving considerable bitterness within the National caucus.
In late 1997 Prime Minister Jim Bolger discovered when he returned to New Zealand from an overseas trip that he no longer had enough numbers in caucus to support his continuation in office. He resigned in favour of Jenny Shipley in December that year.
But we haven’t ever had the sustained chaos enjoyed, if that’s the word, by the current British Conservative Party. And none of our Prime Ministers has ever been seen off by a lettuce.
Historian Dr Michael Bassett, a Minister in the Fourth Labour Government, blogs HERE.