For someone who worships Maggie Thatcher’s memory it must have been a shock for Justice Minister Judith Collins to have to apologise to the Prime Minister and the rest of us yesterday.
After several days of denial, obfuscation, and plain lies she finally admitted the full extent of her collaboration with the Oravida company – in which her husband is a director – while she was on an official, taxpayer funded visit to China last year.
In direct conflict with her ministerial responsibilities Collins allowed her position as a New Zealand cabinet Minister be used to promote her husband’s company.
Faced with on-line publicity about her role (the pictures with the Oravida Board, the cutting of a ribbon for the company, the undeclared dinner with senior Oravida directors and a Chinese government official) Collins was all steely denial, facing down reporters with claims it was all private and personal and no-one else’s business.
But as the disclosures grew the Prime Minister’s office forced her to apologise to limit further damage.
“What’s probably extraordinary is I am saying ‘I apologise’,” she said.
Collins sees herself as National’s “leader in waiting” when John Key departs the scene. She’d like the chance to be Prime Minister as a New Zealand version of former UK Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher – dubbed the “iron lady” – the only person in her all-male cabinet who had any balls.
So is crusher Collins our answer to Thatcher? For hatred of workers and unions Collins fits the bill but she lacks Thatcher’s pompous grandiloquence and unfailing belief that she was always right. Collins just doesn’t cut the mustard.
Instead she’s is a typical low-rent conservative with her intense personal dislikes disguised by weak self-discipline. In what I’ve read of her reported tweets she comes across as nasty and snide rather than shrewd or intelligent, small-minded and cheap rather than bold or decisive.
And with her hair and heavy makeup she’s even less than a pale imitation of the Iron Lady.
Collins would be a deeply polarising figure as a National Party leader or a Prime Minister – more of a Muldoon than a Key and it’s likely that just as many National Party members as the rest of us would have been delighted at the Prime Minister giving her a dressing down today.
Unpleasant and even toxic she may be but certainly not a leader to gain respect aside from her sycophants.