For Judith Collins that was a short honeymoon.
Yesterday she had a good day as all forms of media were dominated by pro National voices talking up how the change of leadership was a very good thing.
She even managed to show her crushing ability by demoting Michael Woodhouse and relieving him of the Health portfolio. Although the rankings are all important. If he does not drop in his caucus ranking this was more for show.
She also managed to say “woke”.
Warm feelings of unity were however undermined by leaking from caucus about what happened. From Tova O’Brien at Newshub:
One National MP reflected on the caucus meeting saying, “It was a bit rich getting a lecture in loyalty and unity when those two [Collins and Brownlee] leaked so much in the past”.
Another said, “A lot of dead rats had to be swallowed…”
“Judith has been disloyal to everyone but there was so much fear in caucus that we’d lose worse than 2002.”
That was National’s worst defeat ever – 21 percent under Bill English.
Then this bombshell hit. Audrey Young has reported that Nikki Kaye will announce her resignation from politics today.
Today Collins was meant to announce a “minor” reshuffle of portfolios. Having to replace your Health spokesperson and your Education spokesperson is not minor.
Kaye occupies a special position in National. She gives them urban liberal credibility. She has managed to hold Auckland Central, usually a marginal seat, through successive elections and bet Jacinda Ardern twice. By all reports she is a phenomenal local Member of Parliament. Without her National will strongly resemble a rural conservative party.
This series of high profile resignations so close to the election is unprecedented. National has lost or will lose five MPs in the past few weeks. By now candidates should be selected, billboards and pamphlets printed and candidates should be out there campaigning full time. But this is a vote of no confidence in National’s ability to get people elected on the list and realisation by senior MPs that their chances are small and disappearing.
Will the last remaining National MP please not forget to turn off the caucus room lights?
Update: Kaye has confirmed she is going and Amy Adams has joined the exodus …