On Judith Collins’ Contrapasso Cataclysm

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Last night, it sounded pretty bad for Simon Bridges. Collins et co said he had to go due to some “serious misconduct” tier “inappropriate” remarks that’d triggered fellow Nat MP Jacqui Dean to make a complaint. We were then informed that the remarks were of a “sexual” nature.

Indeed, such was the seriousness of these sexual comments which had upset Dean that even though the matter had been put to bed some five years ago with an apology and Bill English’s oversight of the resolution, that Collins felt she had “no choice” but to raise it all over again and ouster Bridges from his portfolios.

Now, as of this afternoon … the actual content of Bridges’ comments have been revealed.

What was it? Something Dean overheard (i.e. not actually said to or about Dean), in which Bridges was discussing with an associate of his the fact that he and his wife were trying for a baby, and that there was a particular mode of action which might increase the chances that they’d conceive a girl (perhaps understandable considering they’d already had two boys in succession).

That’s it. That’s the “scandal”.

If you’re wondering why this was worth bringing up half a decade later and with sufficient seriousness to torpedo one of your own party’s *better* performers at a time when it’s by rights ‘all hands to the pump’ … you’re not alone.

It would seem that an appreciable swathe of New Zealand politics – let alone Collins & Bridges (& Dean’s) National Party Caucus colleagues – have been wondering pretty much the exact same thing.

This has then been compounded by revelations that Judith Collins’ press statement very late last night claiming a unanimous mandate of support from National’s Board to ouster Bridges … was apparently false in that rather key detail.

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Now, of course, the whole thing looks less … bizarrely inexplicable when considered as a sort of desperate delaying action against Simon Bridges attempting to snatch back the Leadership from Collins, as many have observed.

Yet simply because it is now ‘explicable’ does not somehow suddenly make it sensible in any way, shape, or form.

Instead, the whole thing is something of a hypostasis of Collins’ political persona writ large.

A nasty, venal plan fueled by desperation and umbrage (and with Cameron Slater tweeting at the same time events were unfolding behind closed doors) which sought to cut off somebody else’s nose with a devil-may-care attitude to the spiting of one’s own party’s face.

She must have known that as soon as the substance of the allegations and the fact of their previous handling actually came out, she’d look ridiculously petty – perhaps even more so than usual.

She must have known that her claim of ‘unanimous’ Board support for her action would swiftly be exposed – and lead to quite some ire against her from within her own party and Caucus collegium amidst a flood of ‘leaks’ to the press about the actual truth of the matter.

She absolutely must have known a great many things. And yet – instead of clinging on for another few weeks while Simon Bridges prevaricated in public about how much he might support the current leader of the National Party and then probably decided to wait til either after Summer or after 2023 … she somehow managed the damn near unprecedented feat of effectively throwing herself out of the party leadership with her own ‘clever’ (self-)preservation-of-leadership gambit.

All I can presume is that she genuinely felt cornered – and that sufficient quotient of her Caucus colleagues had indeed turned against her (or, rather, been prepared to put pre-turning into tangible action via voting for somebody else to lead them) to facilitate Bridges less-than-total loyalty in the press … thus triggering this desperate initiative in its earnest.

That’s why she felt she needed to fake a party board mandate of unanimous support for her anti-Bridges maneuver – because she knew very well (or at least heartily suspected) that she wouldn’t be able to rely upon Caucus to support it, and so sought to borrow the auctoritas of another deliberative wing of the party.

That’s also why she wasn’t, it would seem, too worried about the truth of that occurrence coming out within hours of her action – because by the time it got into the media or most of her colleagues’ heads that she’d fabricated the “unanimous” Board mandate, Bridges would already be heavily damaged goods.

Insinuations of the nature of the “serious misconduct” being “sexual” and involving a female MP as victim would set rumours swirling and dissipate the perception of Bridges as a ‘safer’ prospect than the incumbent. And any putative leadership challenge would thus be prematurely stymied before it could get to a Caucus meeting and pre-empt her.

By the time most people caught up to the actual truth of the situation, whether in terms of what was actually said and/or who was or wasn’t supporting (unanimously or otherwise) Collins or Anti-Collins – she’d have kicked the leadership transition football into touch for another few weeks as the story would die down while other events (like Christmas with Covid and Aucklanders here) first eclipsed and then subsumed it.

A bold plan, and likely a totally unnecessary one. There isn’t much evidence that Bridges was imminently poised to strike in a way that could actually ouster Collins – he was still rather short on support, if he had been contemplating such a thing; his gesticulating in this regard a pantomime act with future ambits in mind.

Instead, like the self-fulfilling prophecies of Greek myth, Collins effectively engineered her own ouster precisely through her own ever more frantic endeavours to protect herself from ouster.

Gosh – brought low by a cunning and duplicitious plot that was supposed to eliminate via sneering besmirchment one’s prospective rival.

Some might suggest that ‘contrapasso’.

27 COMMENTS

  1. ” better* performers ”
    C’mon Curwen this man is a protégé of that shyster Key and is pro oil and neo liberal sycophant. If he was that good where it really mattered then he would have polled a lot higher as an alternative leader ……but he never grabbed the public or instilled any confidence or more importantly someone you could have a beer with which is apparently the litmus test of a supposedly ” man of the people ”
    Bridges is a true Nasty Nat unless he is at home with the kiddies which by the way having his own children did nothing to encourage any empathy at all for the many hungry , deprived destitute expendable members of our country.
    Bridges like the members of the current government are able to encourage neglect because they are well off , comfortable and financially secure.
    They market the poor as a tradeable commodity to feather their own nests.

    • And his comment on his previous term as leader, Bridges had this to say…

      “And I’d do things, I think, not entirely differently, but somewhat differently.”

      Arrogantly dismissive of his previous record.

      The one things Collins has said with which I agree with, ” we need a new broom”, a clear reference to not electing Bridges again.
      It also is self serving, under Bridges, Collins is dead meat.

      • If Bridges gets the job you can crack open the bubbly! National will be fucked even more. In fact, if he gets the job, I will switch sides and deliver the bubbly to your house, provided you share! If National don’t have the guts to start clean now, then they can get fucked for good!

  2. I’m terrible.
    Terrible:
    adjective
    1 extremely bad or serious: a terrible crime | the terrible conditions in which the ordinary people lived.
    • extremely unpleasant or disagreeable: the weather was terrible.
    • very unskilful: despite passing my driving test first time, I’m a terrible driver | I was terrible at basketball.
    • [attributive ] informal used to emphasize the extent of something unpleasant or bad: what a terrible mess.
    • very unwell or troubled: I was sick all night and felt terrible for two days.
    2 causing or likely to cause terror; sinister: the stranger gave a terrible smile.
    Yep. All that.
    I’ll only go for the rub cheers and thanks.
    The rub is that collins is unpleasant. She’s an unpleasant individual, but wait? There’s more!
    She ‘enjoys’ being unpleasant. She’s done herself in and no doubt enjoyed doing so. And thank God I don’t have to care anymore. Goodbye Judith! It’s been awful.
    But now where? And what? What’s the hideous cancer that’s national got in store for us now? Lies? Deception? Cruelties? Greed? Machiavellian double dealings? Manipulative confederacies? Snarking spite? Hissing spitting?
    And for what? A few billion for your mates? Really? Is that it? Our planet’s dying under your greed, we’re frightened and paranoid? Our primary industry’s in a state of desperate panic? And when shit gets real? This is it? National ? This is it ??? A nightmare in a frock and cheap shoes is all it takes?
    Jesus Christ! Is this why I pay my taxes? For a florid pack of be-suited greedy arse holes taking pleasure out of the hunt? Where’s a God when you need it?

  3. Judith Collins’ unpopularity during her short tenure as party leader must have been a shock to the National caucus, who were dependent on her well defined image as strong, tough, firm but fair, in their calculations of raising the polls in their favour.

    • Why do the MMM always misspell “Sieg”? And why do they use a word from a phrase from a toothbrush moustached man guy who literally wrote that Maori lived in trees? A mystery for the Ages.

  4. Surely no one can still believe that Collins, Dean, / Bridges, O’Connor, / Goodfellow can work together as part of a team let alone as part of a government (and they are just the tip of a very unstable powder-keg). Any prospective candidate for the leadership role who believes they can muster the factions together demonstrates from the start that they are as delusional as Collins was/is. If National want to put this behind them there needs to be sackings galore, otherwise this episode is just another step towards their demise to oblivion.

  5. What a load of nonsense, Dean should grow up, being a delicate neurotic is not particularly inspiring. The comments made by Brigdes was mildly amusing, how could anyone take the comments personally and still be upset 4 years later, weird.
    I guess the National Party MPs obviously don’t find Bridges comments a serious issue, maybe Dean should consider her future as an MP as she must be really overly sensitive, Good God it was a joke and should have been treated as such, or is it now clasfied as hate speech.
    I think we’re had a guts full of this PC crap, its becoming extremely oppressive and something will eventually snap.

  6. “That’s also why she wasn’t, it would seem, too worried about the truth of that occurrence coming out within hours of her action – because by the time it got into the media or most of her colleagues’ heads that she’d fabricated the “unanimous” Board mandate, Bridges would already be heavily damaged goods.”

    Which begs the question, if Collin was prepared to use the board to fabricate, has Collins career been a litany of lies? Given her history, one would indeed say yes.

  7. This is not a true and accurate account of what was said and to whom. Women are always having this stuff done to them, and then being told they are too sensitive or cannot take a joke. Jacqui Dean said that the review of sexual harassment in parliament brought back all her fears and concerns from that episode, some four years later. This was not, in her eyes, a minor incident. To his credit, Bridges apologised. Seriously, would you talk about doing it to your wife in a particular position, speaking to three other MPs, even at a party? It was grossly inappropriate. My own blog on this should be up shortly.

    • Liz Gordon. Well said. The context in which Dean raised this was valid, and it was very different from how it is generally being presented here, in fact it was potentially very constructive and responsible.

      This spectacle of Kiwi males berating women for rejecting their immature behaviour is both unedifying and pathetic.

    • Liz. Yep. And one never knows what can trigger flashbacks or unwanted memories further along the path. It is not a simple matter of being “ too sensitive” or being unable to “ take a joke.”

    • Inappropriate comment concerning gender and sex should never be given an uptick. But isn’t five years time enough to make changes in one’s personality make-up? Ideally one learns from one’s mistakes and matures accordingly.

    • Yes you are right in what you say to a certain extent Liz Gordon and goodness knows how Bridges partner/wife feels about their sex life being bandied about in public as a joke, and now for real in public! Yuk. And now again as a serious issue five years later… However you are totally missing the point of what has happened in this current space and it ain’t nothing to do with sexual harassment or bullying… and all I can say is if what the women said to Collins is correct then she has been doubly abused as she did not apparently intend her ‘complaint’ to be ‘conflated’ with Judith’s power play. Really? Then what was the 9am joint presser (that did not happen) gonna be about? Rats running off sinking ship. A sinking and rotting ship.

    • If a prisoner does their time is the the crime then to be used forever and a day to bring them down? Bridges apologised back then. Dean accepted. Time done. If Dean was so aggrieved back then she should have demanded more than an apology. Truth is she got tricked and used by Collins and she’s unhappy about that.

  8. At least National have a chance to rebuild they were going nowhere with Collins.
    The emphasis is have a chance but do they have wherewithal to seize it?
    I think Labour would have preferred Collins stayed there.

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