The comings and goings in National over the past few years feel more like a scripted series of ‘House of Cards’ than real life. Sex scandal (repeat, repeat), hubris, vanity, betrayal, mental health problems, jealousy and revenge have provided entertainment and jaw-dropping disbelief to the public.
Judith Collins’ self-immolation, for that is what it was, feels like the end-of-series episode of a storyline that has been going on for years. It was not pretty. Whatever made her attack Simon Bridges for a 2017 episode we will probably never know. Perhaps she knew she had reached the end of her time, and wanted to take Simon down with her? That’s all I can think of.
The events of 2017 have now been clarified by the victim, Jacqui Dean. Other writers on this blog have trivialised these without knowing what they were. Jacqui noted that Simon had apologised and recognised the harassment was inappropriate. But they were serious enough that the recent review of harassment in Parliament brought them back up in her mind in a distressing way.
It will not help her, or anybody, that this harassment has got caught in the centre of Judith’s departure. But it certainly will rule Bridges out in taking back the leadership, now or ever. Frankly, ever since his weird wide-legged dance on stage earlier this year, all I can see Bridges as is the drunk cuzzie at the party.
But we have to ask again: What is wrong with National? The choices are endless:
- Terrible choice of people to be MPs
- Terrible work environment
- Lack of decent leadership
- Ambition, deceit and stupidity
That’s enough for a start, isn’t it? Whoever takes on the leadership certainly has their job cut out for them. They will have to tame the caucus beast, get some meaningful policy together and make the ship seaworthy for the next election, now less than two years away.
I don’t envy the person who steps up to be Captain of the good ship National, standing in the spot which has been hastily washed clean and disinfected of the outpourings of Ms Collins.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.