As Judith Collins enters her second day of lying low it’s instructive to look at the wider picture of National’s internal politics, in particular the careful way in which the establishment Nats are slowly and strategically removing Collins’ influence so they can ditch her safely.
Two “senior aides” in government stepped out of the shadows to disclose how Collins is viewed by caucus, and then stepped back into the gloom whence they came. Various others offered various insights.
Even Tau Henare’s had a crack at her in public tweeting:
So much for a “private” Dinner ay guys. A Private conversation no less ? #Whatever. If you didn’t want it brought up, why mention it?
— West Side Tory (@tauhenare) May 5, 2014
And Nick Smith (the numbers man for English’s faction – the dominant faction) took a coded but pointed swipe at Collins’ own numbers man, Simon Lusk, in a three news story the other night (Lusk is well known for his love of duck shooting).
They’ve also sacked Williamson who is part of her clique and they’ve turned some of her other supporters away from her (most notably Amy Adams).
It’s no secret that the small but vicious Collins faction has been worrying the rest of the party for some time. Fran O’Sullivan points to her sacking of John Judge as a reason for this, but Collins has caused many other, less public, ructions and her proxies, Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk many more again.
The difference between then and now is the Oravida scandal. It’s had the effect of both embarrassing the party and of weakening Collins’ power and a decision has clearly been made to remove her. The problem that the party establishment has is she is deeply embedded and still has strong support in some quarters. Not enough to save herself, but certainly enough to wreck the place on the way out.
The problem Collins has is this is a cold war being run against her and she has nothing but hot war tools. She knows full well that her leverage is slowly being taken off her but she can’t get the foothold she needs to stop it.
The way this is going I think there are three possible outcomes:
Collins will be removed, but it won’t be until after the election because it will be far too risky for the party to do so before that.
Or she sees the writing on the wall and accepts a deal to leave for an overseas posting.
Or she cuts a deal to stay and undergoes a rebranding from being the mighty “Crusher” to being a quiet, inconsequential, timeserver.
Whatever way it happens, Steve Braunias is right. The Queen is dead.