Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, December 16th, 2012 - 75 comments
Categories: bill english, Judith Collins, leadership, national, Steven Joyce - Tags: audrey young, binnie report, fran o'sullivan
Fran O’Sullivan and Audrey Young have articles this weekend, sizing up Judith Collins as the next potential leader of the National Party. Fran O’Sullivan does a fan-girl rave, sometimes slipping into fanfic mode. The title article locates her in the fantasy scfi genre:
Collins THE force to be reckoned with
Fangirl O’Sullivan starts off with a fanciful claim, likening Collins to Margaret Thatcher. She also seems to celebrate the ruthless autocratic style one of the leaders of the “neoliberal shift”: a shift that proclaimed it would increase riches for all, when in fact, in Thatcher’s UK there was a huge rise in inequalities, unions were severely weakened and poverty rose to record levels. Thatcher is described as using feminine accessories to exert power in a more traditionally associated with masculine power. In the Cabinet room she was feared when she,
manoeuvred her purse like a battleship on a war table
Then O’Sullivan slips into fanfic mode as she compares Thatcher’s handbag routine with the arched eyebrow and curled lip that indicates Collins is in bullying mode:
This year alone she has claimed the scalps of ACC chairman John Judge and other board members, faced down two opposition MPs in a defamation slug-out and now thrown all her weight against former Canadian judge Ian Binnie by hanging him out to dry over the quality of his advice on the vexed issues surrounding David Bain’s compensation claim.
I could have sworn Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little were the ones that faced Collins down in her ill-judged attempt to sue the two Labour MPs. And I thought it was primarily Bronwyn Pullar who did for John Judge? Collins was just ruthless enough to manipulated matters so that others took all the blame. Furthermore, O’Sullivan manages to overlook the dodgy tactics around Collin’s politically-motivated and unjust smearing of Ian Binnie. In contrast, Gordon Campbell described this shoddy affair as “banana republic stuff“:
In the past few weeks, Collins has been mooted by Parliamentary insiders as the most likely replacement for John Key as leader of the National Party … By her appalling handling of the Binnie report, Collins has surely torpedoed any claim that she may be fit to lead the country anytime in the near future. …
In direct contrast to Campbell’s well-argued, evidence-based analysis, O’Sullivan’s fanfic attempt is just the lead in to proposing Collins as a leadership contender.
But as Collins yet again demonstrated this week, her “take no prisoners” style is far more dangerous when it comes to gaining political scalps than that of any other Kiwi politician in Parliament today. …
Labour has plenty of firepower. But much of it is lined up behind leader David Shearer rather than in the front row.
All of this is by way of asking whether Collins has what it takes to be National’s next leader.
O’Sullivan concludes by implying that the whole Binnie smear was a move by Collins to stake her claim as next leader:
There remain issues as to whether at the process level Bain has been treated fairly.
Collins’ real test will come with the quality of the final Cabinet decision-making. It’s a high-stakes game that she must win if she’s to be National’s next leader.
Audrey Young also seems a little breathless and awestruck by Collins ruthless aggression. However, while admiring her assertive style, Young argues that Collins’ greatest strength is also her greatest weakness.
Young is not so certain about the wisdom of Collins attack on Binnie. Collins has been just lucky enough to avoid fatally wounding herself, and her hubris could yet be her downfall.
At least she realised quickly that such a breach of natural justice was unacceptable and did the only fair thing by releasing the report and the critique of it.
The lack of self-doubt has not got her into serious trouble yet, but it is not the same thing as having confidence in oneself.
It is a dangerous trait when mixed with leadership.
It’s depressing to imagine the country being led my someone so ruthlessly bullish, insensitive and self-(pre)serving. But then, the alternatives don’t look that great either. Nevertheless, Collins has front-footed the other Nat leadership contenders just as they are heading for a break. I wonder if Steven Joyce and Bill English will be spending their summer holidays plotting some counter move: something nasty to inflict on those with least power and wealth, to ensure they are seen as even more of a ruthless and dark force to be reckoned with?