Collins’ dilemma & lameduck Key

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, March 30th, 2012 - 36 comments
Categories: john key, Judith Collins, national - Tags:

Judith Collins’ behaviour might strike some as strangely aggressive. Some might even suppose she wouldn’t behave like this unless she was in the right. But let’s put ourselves in her shoes. She wants to be leader. She is now embroiled in a scandal that could end her career. If she could put an end to it without resigning, she would nip it in the bud. Clearly, she can’t – which just goes to confirm what everyone already supposes and what our inside sources confirm: Collins is behind the leaking of the Boag email.

So, what to

Option 1) resign. This would be a total defeat, ending her chances of being leader and the power she has now.

Option 2) fight with everything including the kitchen sink. Here there is at least a sliver of a chance of survival. It will damage the party more if she goes down or not than a clean resignation but her career is going to come first. Considering option 1, this is the optimal strategy.

Nick Smith faced these two options just a week ago but he wasn’t planning on making a run for leader in the next 3 years and his loyalty to the National Party overrode his interest in keeping his power.

On top of the strategy, Collins’ personality is always going to compel her to lash out.

So, this is why we see Collins’ invoking the ‘not in the public interest’ line when questioned in the House and getting the taxpayer to pick up her tab for ludicrous defamation suits on Trevor Mallard, Andrew Little, and Radio New Zealand. These actions will expose her and her party to more derision, contempt, and anger but, but, they have a tiny chance of scaring off her opponents and saving her career. The media has been slightly chilled by the defamation suits. In Collins’ calculus, it’s better to (probably) go down kicking and screaming and hurt whomever doesn’t get out of the way on her way down than to quietly fold and protect her party.

Which brings us back to the person responsible for ensuring that the actions of ministers don’t work against the interests of the government and the National Party (and, oh yeah, the public they’re meant to be serving). John Key at the moment is giving Collins’ enough rope to hang herself. That’s been his strategy in other ministerial scandals too. But this is a new challenge to which his corporatist style of leadership is unsuited.

At its root, this is a fight for the succession to leadership post-Key that has spilled into the public arena – Collins’ actions have shifted the Boag and brat pack factions against her, giving the Joyce faction the opportunity to strike and attempt to knock her out of contention. If it was just one minister who had stuffed up, letting them play it out for themselves before stepping in to give them the chop if need be would work – as it did with Worth, Wong, Heatley, and Smith. But Key’s got a civil war on his hands that is over what happens once he is no longer leader. His failure to quash this just confirms that he is now a lame-duck.

36 comments on “Collins’ dilemma & lameduck Key”

  1. Kotahi Tane Huna

    Isn’t there another possibility? That Key or his staff leaked the email, and Collins is simply trying to shut down debate.

    • ianmac

      Hence Judith Collins being so certain that it was not she or her office which had leaked. And if so Mr Key would be rather beholden to Judith Collins.Yes?

      • Kotahi Tane Huna

        Yes, but if the damage goes upstairs will Key have anything worth having, or hang around long enough to see it distributed according to plan?

        The whole sleazy mess just looks completely FUBAR.

  2. Jim Nald

    “His failure to quash this just confirms that he is now a lame-duck.”

    It has been increasingly evident to most that he is a quaa aa c`-_

    …. sorry, try that again, …. quack.

    • infused

      Key is not stupid. He’s probably letting this play out for a reason.

      • Pascal's bookie

        Yep. He doesn’t want any of his own finger prints on it. If Collins goes down over this, he wants to be the one that sacks her for lying to him.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna

        Whoever leaked a private email in the middle of a privacy scandal did a stupid thing. If that person is John Key he’s letting it play out because he’s broken the law and he hasn’t got anywhere to go.

  3. Blue

    I have no idea why Judith Collins thinks she could be in contention for the National Party leadership. Being a ruthless, stone cold bitch is not what people generally look for in a future Prime Minister. It doesn’t play well either within a party or with the general public.

    How much trouble political parties get themselves into with people who are totally unsuited for leadership but won’t give up their delusional ambitions.

    • outofbed

      Nats oh please make Judith Leader, pretty please

    • prism

      I used to think of Jenny whatsername as being pretty stone cold, and Ruth Richardson had half her description in her name. For me the name Ruth will never leave a pleasant association again.

      The hard people, men or women, can take a run at the PM position if they have the looks and manner of a confident leading personality and they look as if they can get the trains running on time, and deal to the current anxiety of the middle and upper class.

      Actually one could say that the NACTS come from a new class the meddle class, as from the moment they get into power they try and undermine with swingeing changes whatever is functioning satisfactorily in society.

      • ianmac

        prism: Actually one could say that the NACTS come from a new class the meddle class…
        Brilliant. Will pinch the expression if you don’t mind. 🙂

  4. outofbed

    yeah hard copy went upstairs, and hey presto leaked That is why she A) is insistent on her innocence and B)simultaneously trying to shut down the debate

    • Jim Nald

      le venomous spider spins and spins and spins
      webs of intrigues, manipulation and deception
      and entangles and traps herself ?

      • ianmac

        More like a ruthless axe-wielding rampager who accidentally slices off her nose to spite her face. OOps!

    • Kotahi Tane Huna

      Questions to Collins:

      1. How many physical copies were made?
      2. Is there a distribution list?
      3. Can we see it?

      What are the powers of the Privacy Commissioner in terms of say, questioning staff in Collins’ & Key’s offices?

      If Key leaked, Collins has every reason to be absolutely livid. 🙂

      What possibility is there that it was Pullar? Would Collins be threatening to sue? It would make more sense to just sit back and wait for Mallard and Little to look daft.

      • I have absolutely no faith that the Privacy Commissioner will get to the truth of the matter. Marie Shroff has just been ignoring peoples complaints lately without even an acknowledgement.

        All this rubbish about forensic computer investigators and such will amount to the Nats writing a script for the Privacy Commissioner to follow and then they will hope it all goes away.

    • Anne

      yeah hard copy went upstairs, and hey presto leaked.

      Yes. That’s my contention.

      I mean look… somebody in Judith’s office made a hard copy which was a considerate thing to do. It makes it easy for people to read and can be accessed quickly. As a courtesy, it was given to someone in the PM’s office because they thought John might like to see it. Then, ya know, it got mislaid somewhere – god knows where – and someone else must have found it and showed it to a passing journalist. I mean, these things happen. You can’t blame anyone. Neither Judith nor John actually touched the bit of paper so it’s wrong to accuse them of anything.

  5. Eddie, you’re so subtle I can barely see what you’re trying to do.

    Where’s the leader who’s overshadowed by a real lame duck?

  6. the whole tenor of this debacle does not bode well for new zealand as a whole. (going forward…hahahahahahahahaha)
    if every govt rides an economic cycle and then has to be removed to cure the excesses of polticial promise from the last administration then we are in a whole lot of trouble that we cant even begin to imagine.
    After 2,000 the right got the permanent campaign off the ground and now the cat is out of the bag then its simply a matter of who has got the tiger by the tail and any pretensions of left and right are gone forever while the 24/7 media and the bribees decide who gets the next go.

  7. Even if collins handed the ‘printed out’ copy to a staffer,she still is indirectly responsible
    for the leak.
    If so then the staffer or staffers need to be questioned by the inquiry.
    Her smug smile yesterday when questioned by the media show that she knows
    alright and that is why she is pushing that she had nothing to do with the release.
    Perhaps she could still see her deck of cards come crashing down as long as the
    staffer is honest and recognises by not devulging the truth then if found out they
    lied,their job would also be on the line.

    • ianmac

      “Her smug smile yesterday when questioned….”
      Is it my imagination or are camera shots lingering on Judith Collins as she walks away?

    • ghostwhowalksnz

      These sort of enquirys about deliberate leaks all ways go nowhere. Thats why they have them.

      You HAVE TO look at people phone records before and after . Example The person who collected the printed copy in Collins office spoke immediately to ‘Gretel’ in OPM ( Office of the PM).
      This is the sort of trial you need for a police type investigation. But it wont be like that. Those involved will just be asked, and not under oath. And they will lie.

  8. Lanthanide

    Maybe this is why Simon Power retreated to Australia?

    • tracey

      I reckon you are right. Power was a good sort amongst a bunch of self serving powerseekers. He was, oddly enough for a politician, interested in advancing/implementing policies (whether I agree with them or not is irrelevant). I just cant see how a cabinet table with Joyce, McCully, Key and Collins could possibly ever be about the good of the people, do you?

      Say what you will about Hollowmen but general people don’t change their inclination so quickly. Joyce, Key and McCully lay at the centre of the brethren debacle. They were prepared to lie and break rules to get power then…. why would that have changed?

      using lawsuits to muzzle the press and clamp down on scandals might seem logically like a Collins gig but I still suspect it has Joyce’s fingerprints all over it.

    • tc

      that’s likely lanth, it was rumoured he didn’t have the stomach or backing to go up against or be part of either a Joyce or Collins led Shonkey replacement hollowmen front office.

  9. tracey

    So perhaps the next question for Collins in the house MUST be and should have been

    Does the Minister know who leaked the email and/or from which office the leak came?

    At present Bryce Edwards seems to be on the money when he says she can be SO certain it didn’t come from HER office because she knows from which office it DID come.

  10. First Smith. Now Collins in trouble. Does anyone get the impression that this is like a severe thunderstorm developing for the National Party, and potentially just as spectacular?

    • I think it’s more like they’ve ignored due process and a few have been caught fracking things up for their own benefit. Now that the ground is shaking with one of them falling through a large credibility gap they’re panicking!

      Key is hiding under a rock somewhere while Collins screams “defamation” whenever the opposition mentions the cracks in their stories re the ACC debacle. Brownlee mutters something about it being the Finn’s fault as the ground under the Nats feet is giving way through the sheer weight of their indiscretions. Duck and cover is the new National party motto.

  11. captain hook

    you’re right jackal.
    due process is a foreign concept to these vultures.

  12. Kevin

    So it is a leadership fight that has spilled over into the public arena, a post Key jostle with Nic Smith being the first casualty, and no doubt more to come.
    Is this the first shots being fired in the Collins camp directed towards the Joyce camp?