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Coup Coup Ca Choo!

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, May 30th, 2015 - 58 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, john key, Judith Collins, leadership, Politics - Tags: , , ,

I’ve been trying to make sense of what is happening inside the National Party caucus. There is clearly no chance of reconciliation between Camp Key and Camp Collins. And it’s possible that the attempt by Nat MP Maurice Williamson to join ACT is not just petulance or a sign of relevance deficit syndrome. It could actually be part of a failed strategy by Collins supporters to force John Key further to the right.

Let me explain. I’ve heard a whisper from a Tory source who is on occasion trustworthy (and on other occasions just winds me up) that Williamson was testing the waters for 2 or 3 other National Party MP’s to also waka hop over to ACT. Collins wouldn’t be one of those to go; she would stay and undermine Key from within caucus.

The plan was supposed to work like this: with National’s governing majority eroded by losing Northland, they’re susceptible to being outflanked on the right. If ACT suddenly had 3 or more MP’s, they could effectively veto any proposed National legislation that they deemed as too soft and there would be little Key could do about it. He would be instantly reduced to a lame duck leader, unable to promote the poll and focus group driven agenda he has relied on to maintain his middle of the road façade and consequent popularity.

Key would be left with a stark choice; give in and go to the right or give in and quit.

Further, I’m told the reason the ACT leadership so brutally and publicly rejected Williamson was not because they have a moral objection to treachery, or think Key’s anything but an approval craving softy, but because they recognised that David ‘Rimmer’ Seymour is so weak, he couldn’t have controlled the new MP’s. ACT risked being further trivialised and as they’re already super sensitive about only existing as National’s charity case,  the board freaked out and dobbed Williamson in to Joyce and Key. And those two suggested ACT name and shame Williamson in a bid to forestall the defection of others.

The cadre around Collins has not grown much numerically, but it has strengthened in its determination to take National further to the right. They see the Key years as a wasted opportunity and want to use the remaining part of this term to introduce more Randian legislation, even at the cost of going into opposition at the next election.

There appears to be strengthening support for a Collins coup from outside the party, with Don Brash apparently happy to be the go-between with ACT, and the usual social media suspects stirring the pot. As well as Williamson, the other names I hear within caucus supporting Collins are dry righties such as Amy Adams, Simon Bridges, Sam Lotu-Iiga, Jami-Lee Ross, Scott Simpson and Paul Goldsmith. Plodding ex Plod Chester Borrows appears to have become a convert in recent weeks too, despite a backlash from some within the National caucus.

Borrows has gone feral. He’s leading the charge in opposing improvements in health and safety legislation, particularly what he seems to see as creeping nanny stateism on the farm, where it’s being proposed that the sons of the soil should lose the right to freely injure and kill themselves and their staff on quad bikes. Taranaki based Borrows recently claimed that he knew of a farmer who had been prosecuted for not hanging helmets on parked quad bikes, calling WorkSafe staff “dickheads”. Strangely, when CTU leader Helen Kelly OIA’d the case, no such prosecution existed. I think we know who the real dickhead is, Chester.

But back to Collins. Again, according to my Tory source, with the Williamson waka jumping tactic exposed and Key still riding high in the polls, the plotting is on the backburner for now. However, Camp Collins is still looking for signs of weakness and if Key continues to cock up, as he has done with his hair fetish and cowgate, the knives may be out sooner rather than later.

Commentators such as Matthew Hooton and Cameron Slater will continue to sow seeds of dissent, whining irrationally that Joyce and Key have taken National to the left. Collins will bide her time, but the intent to deal to Key this term remains. As our learned friends in the legal profession know, crime requires means, motive and opportunity. Collins already has the first two, she now just needs the right opportunity. On present form, it won’t be long before Key gives her an excuse to slip the stiletto into his back.

So that’s the current state of play, as I understand it. I’m not saying its 100% correct, but the vibe, your honour, the vibe! And ain’t life grand when we can speculate on a brutal and bloody change of leadership that doesn’t involve the NZ Labour Party?

58 comments on “Coup Coup Ca Choo!”

  1. adam 1

    This is the stuff of nightmares – Collins as PM. Mind you if she does do her coup – watch the Tory Scum drop like a lead balloon in the public’s’ eyes. No amount of spin would help them.

    • b waghorn 1.1

      Yes I’ve got a died in the wool nat voting mate and he says he couldn’t vote for Collins I’ll remind him of it to .
      I think she’s unelectable so I’m hoping she rolls key mid next year , and voters kill two birds with one stone.

    • Yeah, I’m kinda thinking that a Collins coup would be a solid victory for the left really, as it would make incredibly clear what the Key government has been warming up to all this time, and make a change pretty damn inevitable.

    • Matthew Hooton 1.3

      There will be no Collins coup. She can’t get more than seven signatures

      • Sacha 1.3.1

        Flexing muscle to accelerate the decision to giver her back a cabinet seat?

      • Matthew, you are probably right about her support level, though if there are others like Borrows who can be convinced to back her, that might change rapidly.

        However, I think the point of the tactic of co-opting ACT was to maximise leverage from a small base. It’s a plan that recognises their grouping’s numerical weakness within National, but also uses National’s own numerical weakness in Parliament against Key. Collins clearly doesn’t have a majority, but if she can make life so difficult for the PM that he chooses to walk, then she would be a frontrunner to take over.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    The part that could be interesting is what ACTs piggy bank, Alan Gibbs thinks ?

    And none of the above mentions Lusk, who is close to the above National Mps.

    After the long weekend, could the pot be stirred more?

  3. Craig H 3

    I’m not sure which I’d prefer – Collins as PM for 1-2 years, or Key for 5.

    • I’d take Collins every time, as 1-2 years of extreme and unpopular right-wing policy would be much easier to roll back than John Key’s softly-softly approach, which is hard to convince right-wing Labourites to roll back.

  4. lprent 4

    And ain’t life grand when we can speculate on a brutal and bloody change of leadership that doesn’t involve the NZ Labour Party?

    Indeed. About frigging time as well. I was starting to get pissed off with that stupidity.

    There appear to be a lot of solid Nat activists who have been getting pissed off with the now-near continuous information about crony capitalist bribery going on. Grumpy they are. Of course the current under $4/kg end of season payout for milk solids won’t be helping. But I haven’t been out into the farms this year to find out.

    I’m not sure what, but there is seems to be something happening in Act as well. Feels like there is a shift in posture from the people I talk to. I think that the remaining still quite ideological adherents are getting embarrassed at being under Nationals grasp.

    Third terms – always a bugger. Especially for a party that has such a thin grasp of MPs in the house.

  5. mickysavage 5

    Good post TRP but should it be “sheepgate” rather than “cowgate”?

  6. Pascals bookie 6

    Boag was on the RNZ panel during the week; she insisted, (saying it was much more than just rumour), that Williamson ‘plus one other’ were definitely wanting to go to ACT.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      Well you can guess who worked in Williamsons electorate office, while he was a Manukau City Councillor, and who Williamson along with Lusk engineered his selection meeting victory.

      So a same sex couple were trying to gatecrash the ACT party ball, but got the finger instead.

      How considerate of Key and Co to use health and safety legislation as a chew toy.

    • felix 6.2

      Can’t be much fun being referred to as Maurice’s +1

    • Matthew Hooton 6.3

      Boag has hated Williamson and Collins for many years, and her comments need to be understood in that context.

      • Tracey 6.3.1

        If you had won the tender to represent the saudi chappie, would you have still blown the whistle? What was the value of the failed tender?

        • Matthew Hooton 6.3.1.1

          There was no tender. Just a couple of meetings five years ago. And I didn’t blow the whistle on the flying sheep – Heather at TVNZ did. I didn’t know anything about it until she ran the story.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 6.3.1.1.1

            If your ‘approach’ had been successful, would it have been the worst (as in, most damaging to your fellow citizens) example of your behaviour (discounting your conspiracy to murder Nicky Hager), or was this a run-o’-the mill mundane beautifully-crafted-lies-for-money deal?

          • Tracey 6.3.1.1.2

            Tell Fran O’Sullivan she was painting you are quite the heroic whistleblower on the weekend…

  7. Clemgeopin 7

    Why the heck hasn’t the nasty Key our ‘honourable’ Prime Minister, been taken to courts of law for his disgraceful criminal behaviour with the waitress? And that crook, Glucina of NZH? How come she too has been let go with no consequences?
    Doesn’t any one care anymore?

  8. Colonial Rawshark 8

    I’ll echo Bill: FIXED TERM PARLIAMENTS act please.

    • Stuart Munro 8.1

      The Korean system is good – president gets one five year term & he’s out of politics. Limited terms are good for curtailing entrenched corruption.

      • emergency mike 8.1.1

        The South Korean president is currently a she, and the corruption there is makes the National party look like angels. More entrenched than Peter Dunne’s hairdo.

      • Term limits have their own problems, as it can force leadership changes before there’s a good successor to come. I’d rather people make their own decisions on whether leaders are worth supporting or not, even if that nets us gormless bullies like Key.

      • KJT 8.1.3

        Doesn’t work in Korea, and definitely would not work here. New Zealand politicians collect their bribes after, leaving parliament.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    I don’t quite understand this plot, but then maybe that just shows how inadequately thought through the whole thing was?

    National + ACT = 60 votes, they need 61 to pass legislation. If ACT had 3 MPs instead of 1 at the expense of 2 from National, it will still only be 60 votes.

    They might be able to ‘boycott’ anything that was perceived as not right-wing enough, but they still wouldn’t actually be able to pass any right-wing legislation anyway. The best they could do is collaborate with Peters, but I think he would have the political nous to stay away from any collaboration, because he’d rightly sense that the public were not impressed by Act’s game playing. I wouldn’t count on Peter Dunne or the MP to abide by their confidence and supply agreements under such an end-run gerrymander either.

    If their goal was to topple Key, that would consign them to opposition in 2017.

    • ianmac 9.1

      @ Lanthanide”…but they still wouldn’t actually be able to pass any right-wing legislation anyway.”
      But it would give them bargaining chips behind closed doors.
      And for Williamson and perhaps Collins I reckon that they have been or will be asked to retire at the next election because they would have nothing to loose.

    • Think more in terms of what National + MP + UF can pass. If National needs Act to pass anything without relying on the Greens, NZF, or Labour, then it’s constrained against passing more moderate policies.

      If they can pass policies without Act like they can now, then things like benefit increases can get through.

      • Lanthanide 9.2.1

        “If they can pass policies without Act like they can now, then things like benefit increases can get through.”

        You’re suggesting that Labour, NZF or Greens wouldn’t have voted in favour of raising benefits?

        That’s just my point – anything that could currently be passed by National + MP + UF that ACT wanted to vote against, would likely be supported by one of NZFirst/Greens/Labour.

        • Sacha 9.2.1.1

          True but how large is the part of the venn diagram where the parliamentary left’s preferences overlap those of Nat/United bowtie/Maori party?

          Ah, hang on, I see you included Winston ..

          • Lanthanide 9.2.1.1.1

            Given that the Maori Party already vote about 70% against National…

        • If it was a vote on just the benefit increase, Labour and the greens definitely would have jumped on such a bill. But if it was part of supporting National’s entire budget, I doubt they would consider the raise worth it, and I doubt National would do a single-bill vote like that very often.

          By taking away the option for National to work with its two centrist parties, basically this faction would have forced them to go hard right or left on each vote, and known which approach was more likely to be palatable to the Nats on most issues.

          Besides, not sure a lot of unobjectionable parts of the budget (like the small benefit increase) would have happened without the Nats needing the Maori Party to pass a budget, whatever I think of them supporting the Government on confidence and supply.

          • Lanthanide 9.2.1.2.1

            “Besides, not sure a lot of unobjectionable parts of the budget (like the small benefit increase) would have happened without the Nats needing the Maori Party to pass a budget, whatever I think of them supporting the Government on confidence and supply.”

            Well that explains your viewpoint then. I think you’re entirely wrong.

            The Maori Party have voted for everything in all of the budgets, the only thing they made an issue about was the partial privatization of state assets, and only then because of how it related to issues of Maori water rights.

    • Sacha 9.3

      They do not even have to jump ship – the mere threat may be enough to tip the balance in their murky party backers to encourage Key out.

  10. Facetious 10

    A good piece of fiction by Te Reo Putake written to entertain the faithful and conspiracy-theorists within the audience. Policies and voters, not wild dreams will make possible a Labour win.

    • Melb 10.1

      Exactly.

      Yes, there is a coup being plotted in the party that recently polled support of 54%.

      The next largest party that polled less than half of that has strong and stable leadership, and they all back their leader as they wallow in the sub 30% range.

    • ropata 10.2

      Thanks for the “advice” facetious, this coming from the party of pie in the sky policy made up on the hoof by a PM who is nothing but a fictional character invented by Crosby Textor

  11. Ergo Robertina 11

    Interesting post; I vaguely wondered what Hooton’s histrionics around the Budget were for and this joins some dots.

    ”ACT risked being further trivialised and as they’re already super sensitive about only existing as National’s charity case, the board freaked out and dobbed Williamson in to Joyce and Key.”

    I wonder if it’s more just that Act is a shell party over which the less extreme Nat faction at present have influence and control rather than the far-right fringe.

    • ianmac 11.1

      Within any big Party there are factions. To believe that the 60 MPs in National all breathe the same opinions would be naive. Therefore the Right Rump exists and would have expected that National in Government had been much more ferocious especially towards the poor. (Not that they haven’t been mean!)
      So yes. ACT is the recipient of this and been useful eg Charter Schools. But 60 MPs can be a restless bunch especially when largely ignored by Cabinet.
      So could the scenario outlined by TRP be true? Probably. Hope so. Though a ruthless Key would not stand by and watch. Assassin will act.

      • Ergo Robertina 11.1.1

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. Of course all parties have factions!
        However it’s blindingly obvious the far-right faction badly over-reached in the Brash era, and the other faction has ridden high on the Key wave since and orchestrated an unprecedented level of caucus control.

        • ianmac 11.1.1.1

          Do you think that the far-right faction is satisfied with Key direction?
          Do you think that the far right faction will agitate or be revolting?
          I thought there were many non-MPs who were dis-satisfied.

          • Ergo Robertina 11.1.1.1.1

            My original point was querying the notion of Act being an autonomous party with a perception problem of being National’s ”charity case”.
            It seems to me control of Act reflects the relative positions of National’s factions, and right now, Key’s crowd still holds sway. I think that includes some on the far right who are more pragmatically inclined than Collins’ clique.
            Definite signs of agitation though, as TRP points out in the post.

    • This is why I’ve always argued that it’s much more useful to think of National as a coalition party of social conservatives and classical economic liberals. The Liberals have been running the party under Key and English, and their approach on social issues is causing some division now that Key doesn’t seem invulnerable as a leader anymore, and an automatic ticket to victory.

      Any large party develops at least two significant factions, if not more. The question is whether these factions co-operate effectively or not, and whether they view each others’ priorities as legitimate. National has never functioned that way, they have always been a coalition of convenience to hold onto power amid the rise of the Labour Party.

      • Sacha 11.2.1

        I wouldn’t describe Collins or her faction as ‘conservatives’. Radical rightists offended by the pragmatic reserve of English, Joyce and their frontpuppet. And the latter faction is dangerous enough.

      • felix 11.2.2

        I wouldn’t describe the current ruling faction as classical economic liberals either, even though they talk the talk.

        • Yeah, neither is a perfect label, but that’s definitely where they both come from in terms of the history of the National Party, and the unifying policy vision each faction has is in either the economic or the social sphere of right-wing thought, regardless of the complicated opinions of the individual members of each faction.

          I use those two labels as I imagine that’s how each of them see themselves. Could be totally off-base though.

          • Ergo Robertina 11.2.2.1.1

            I think the fissures will become more apparent over the coming years as the Nats have to address various market failures like housing and environmental degradation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up fracturing the party.

            • te reo putake 11.2.2.1.1.1

              One of National’s strengths is that they have managed to paper over the cracks quite effectively. They’ve never had to deal with organised breakaways such as John A Lee’s DLP or Jim Anderton’s Alliance that I can recall. Bob Jones’s NZ Party was formed from outside National and reflected a libertarian ideology that didn’t really exist inside National at that time.

              If they ever do have a real split, it might be reflective of their roots as a coalition of a party for the urban bourgeoisie (United Party) and the rural Reform Party. I think there is real scope for the rural demographic to finally realise that National isn’t the party of the farm any more and their abandonment of the provinces reflects their almost entirely urban based caucus. Chester Borrows is a indicator of that possibility, as is Labour winning West Coast/Tasman with a conservative candidate.

              With the likelihood of mass bankruptcies in the heartland as the dairy price collapses, National’s ‘so what?’ attitude to the land may bite them on the bum sooner rather than later.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                NZ First

                • Yes, quite right. Though I think Winston was actually chucked out of National first, wasn’t he? So more like John A Lee than Anderton, who took a large chunk of the activist base with him when he left.

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