Neale is right. The only acceptable answer whenever a question relating to leadership is asked is to affirm that the leader has the particular MP’s full support.
Anything less than this will provoke speculation. And believe me, I have been around, speculation is the kiss of death.
So it is somewhat bemusing to see the response of National MPs to the latest Reid Research poll that had Simon Bridges’s support lower than that for the Greens.
Judith’s response was of the sort that saw Labour MPs demoted without hesitation a few years ago. And she reckons that she is but a humble servant to her caucus.
From Tova O’Brien at Stuff:
“My role is just to do whatever the caucus needs me to do,” she told Newshub. “My view is I’m just doing my job.”
But she refused to rule out a leadership challenge, saying instead: “I’m very clearly not ruling out anything.”
When asked how many of her colleagues had asked her to be leader, she said they “discuss all sort of things”.
And she finished by saying this:
She said it’s “not for her to say” just how much support she has, but didn’t deny that she’d been approached.
“You’d have to ask other people,” was her response to what kind of leader she’d be.
Next up was David Bennett who was asked what he thought of Judith being leader. He said this:
Simon is our leader.”
Do you get a sense of overwhelming loyal support? Me neither.
Then Max Headroom lookalike Matt King was asked and also blew the answer:
I’m happy with Simon, I’d be happy with Judith.”
The other comments were really underwhelming. Like this one:
You either love her or you hate her,” was East Coast MP Anne Tolley’s verdict.
Or this one:
There’s a number of people who would make a good leader, we’ll just see,” said list MP Nuk Korako.
Or this one:
Simon’s doing a great job at the moment,” said Tim van de Molen, MP for Waikato.
Or even this one from a very senior MP:
I don’t think it’s up for consideration at the moment,” said Ilam MP Gerry Brownlee.
Under John Key National’s message discipline used to be so good. They could brazen through anything, say things were great when they were not, and if all else failed blame Labour.
Now they cannot trot out that most basic of responses of loyalty.
Tick tock tick tock …