It’s been a few days now since the announcement of Katherine Rich’s decision to stand down from politics, but articles such as in today’s NZ Herald continue to try and explain “why”.
Perhaps they also have that sense that her departure could be a turning point, the significance eluding us until we’re further down the track.
Certainly many have commented that her departure removes an influential moderate (and female) voice in National.
As commented elsewhere, Rich has been isolated in the National caucus; a compassionate conservative opposed to National’s new right-wing agenda. She was the modern face of the increasingly rare traditional conservative politician.
It wasn’t however just on welfare where she refused to bow to Brash-Key neo-liberal zeal. Her departure will see the conservative voice of reason diminish across the spectrum:
So why has the moderate and appealing voice of the National Party left? Many of us who observe politics will understand the conflict between family and the call of amibition. But the question of “why now” must still be asked (and why announce it the day after your leaders response to the PMs statement?). We are not alone in our confusion. In yesterday’s NZ Herald the Insider also had questions (15 Feb 2008, off-line):
The Insider has to admit to being taken by surprise by Katherine Rich’s decision to quit Parliament. No matter what people’s views on Rich’s politics, her rare ability to stand strong and quietly defend her beliefs was a breath of fresh air. Of course it helped that she looked so good, but National is now left with a huge gap to fill. There is still an underlying suspicion about her reasons for quitting, especially since another senior MP, Simon Power, sat in on her interviews with the media. Is there something still to be told? (NZ Herald, 15 Feb 2008)
The departure of Katherine Rich will leave National’s caucus one liberal down, allowing the influence of the right to extend its silent reach even further down the throat of the National Party.
Last time Rich left Key got himself to the front bench, what did he get this time?