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Katherine’s tangible policy presence

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 pm, February 16th, 2008 - 11 comments
Categories: child discipline, john key, national - Tags: , ,

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:

  • Rich refused to buy in to the Nats’ bulk funding plans for schools.
  • Rich was critical of the Brethren’s influence in the party, long before Brash and Key were implicated in the Hollow Men.
  • Rich was the sole National Party voice who was to vote for the straight repeal of s59 of the Crime Act (before Mr Key surprised his caucus with an about face).
  • Rich was set against removing school zoning. She told the Education Review last year she thought it was ‘morally reprehensible’

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?

11 comments on “Katherine’s tangible policy presence ”

  1. DS 1

    For all her apparent moderation, as a Dunedinite I’m pleased to see the back of her. She got thrashed by Pete Hodgson in Dunedin North election after election, but in all her local public-relations, she kept passing herself off as a Dunedin MP. Which was really, really annoying: she was essentially claiming to represent the very people who repeatedly and resoundingly rejected her.

  2. macho white ball-breaker 2

    National’s smooth spin on Rich’s departure is shattered by Deborah Coddington in the Herald:


  3. outofbed 3

    And when your party close ties with people like this:-

    Children’s commissioner condemns support of jailed mum


    Who wouldn’t want to distance themselves

  4. Ruth 4

    Yeah – and it wasn’t just Family First supporting her. I think a lot of bloggers/blogs should be named and shamed too.

  5. outofbed 5

    Yes I won’t hold my breath for any apologies

  6. the sprout 6

    yes it was wise of National to create an 11th hour imaginary amendment to “allow” them to support s59 and not remain allied with the “best your kids to show them you care” maniacs.

    i wished at the time that Labour wouldn’t let National off the hook but i guess it was considered better to just get the thing through and not play National’s game of gambling children’s welfare for the sake of polls.

  7. the sprout 7

    *”beat”, not “best”

  8. Ruth 8

    Agree Sprout. As I’ve said b4 – I support Key, but if he looks like repealing this amendment I will not vote for him.

    I genuinely think Key agrees with Bradford on this – he alienated a lot of his blue-rinse brigade/far right supporters because of it, and I admire him for that. The fact that the far right call him an ‘appeaser’ amuses me.

  9. the sprout 9

    the fact they consider appeasement as pejorative is amusing – are they assuming a Chamberlainesque context?

  10. AncientGeek 10

    Personally I don’t care how it got passed. I was initially against it as not being required. The opposition to it convinced me that it needed to be passed.

    Seemed like there was considerable variation in what people considered to be ‘reasonable’. What the repeal did was to leave that to the discretion of the judge, by untying the judges hands on the reasonable force defense.

    The police always had discretion on when and if to lay charges.

    The fact that the far right call him an ‘appeaser’ amuses me.

    It is called politics. They can expect far more compromises in the future.

    cap: smashes power
    the machine strikes again….

  11. Dan 11

    Re Macho-Ballbreaker, Deborah Coddington’s summary of the situation confirmed my suspicions from way back as to Rich’s standing in the party. There are many contradictions on the right: Prime Minister Clark is quite unfairly pilloried for lacking femininity and not having children, whilst at the same time, an articulate, very feminine mother of two is sent to Coventry. Linda Scott struggled with the glass ceiling of the boys’ club. It was not that long into the first days of Keys’ reign that Rich and Keys were touted as the National party’s version of Camelot. That it has not happened suggests the lack of Camelot means the Nats propose to return to the dry old days of Richardson and English. The Nats have a major problem on their hands: they will lose a lot of the middle 10-15% so essential if they burn off talents such as Rich. The women’s vote is much more volatile than they have allowed for, and their are sufficient males who judge people on their abilities rather than their gender.

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