Dr Liz Gordon: Doing politics badly


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.

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  1. What I believe it to be and we can debate other parties faults another time is one of professionalism. This has been ongoing since the inception of dirty politics. Cam Slater and his appalling Whailoil site, Jason Eades involvement and even parliaments own rhetoric of the sordid ongoings behind closed doors( Jamie Lee Ross) When you think Bridges tape admission of what ethnicity the party are better off having(Chinese or Indians,Collins Oravida, Dirty Politics and Swamp Kauri debacle, Michael Woodhouse’s homeless man, Gerry Brownlees barging through the airport et etc, none of it is that of a true professional.
    When you think Shane Reti you think ultimate professional of which there is no chance he would use the same language in conversations Bridges used. Sadly nothing will change as the same protagonists remain. Lasty there are no excuses, they’re of the age that maturity should not be in question, alas this is not the case.

  2. When burning Bridges was last in charge …
    The parties still sit close, however – National Party on 44%, rising 4% since 1 NEWS’ last poll in April. Labour dropping by a significant 6%, down to 42%.

    National Party: 44% – (Up 4%)
    Labour Party : 42% (Down 6%)
    Green Party: 6% – (Steady)
    New Zealand First: 5% – (Up 1%-point)
    ACT: 1% – (Steady)

  3. Dr Liz, it’s impossible to wash clean and disinfect when the dirt is still there. The ‘good ship’ National is a long way from being seaworthy. Any candidate for the leadership who thinks they can rally the sniping factions is as delusional as Collins. Until significant redundancies occur at both Board & MP level that ship is going nowhere, and the MPs will continue to pick up their pay under false pretences.

  4. It doesn’t matter. Our government, of any persuasion, exists to serve the powerful. First noticed this with neoliberal economic policy. Then came hands-off finance (there’s a reason why government can’t do nada about rising house prices). Next was and still is climate change and now we can throw Covid 19 in to this mix also. All designed, thought up, or taken advantage of, by the rich and powerful, meaning absolutely none of this ‘stuff’ is designed to help us common folk….

  5. I have images of Clarke, David Wong Tong and Seymour’s wife asking their respective partners, “How was your day dear?” and the different answers.

      • No, it wasn’t harassment. I don’t like Bridges but his comment wasn’t aimed specifically at Jacqui Deane, it was about Bridges and his wife’s attempts to have a daughter referring to old wives tales re sex positions to achieve the outcome of a daughter. It was crass, inappropriate and taken as offensive by Deane but he was not sexually harrassing Deane.

  6. Collins is as Collins does. She’s a politician, and an unpopular one at that because of her antics. She weaponized an issue from five years ago to try and king hit Bridgers. Many of us do not believe she has a particular interest in woke attitudes, but if it can be used she, – being the opportunist
    she is, – will use it. She will be back, – with the law and order portfolio. Watch this space.

  7. YES. it was awful, about using women in sexual positions to procreate a particular gender. Also highly unscientific! And the context was a small group of leering male peers. But it doesn’t really matter what I think, does it? Jacqui Dean did not hide her distress, nor how it came back at her years later during a harassment review. She perceived it as abusive in that context and Simon Bridges agreed with her, making more than one apology. Trying to tell people that what they feel is abuse, is not, is pointless. A person of reasonable emotional resilience (and I have heard nothing else of Jacqui) knows when they have been abused.

    • Rubbish. Collins roped her in. Who knows what she promised Dean but little old naive Dean fell for the trick and now the whole thing backfired. Dean tried to clear herself today by saying she didn’t think her rehashed story would be used to do what Collins did. What a load garbage. Dean was in on the plot but she made a big mistake in trusting Collins. Her career is done. And it should be after making herself an accessory to that stupid act. Who’d want to give their vote to Dean now? I wouldn’t.

      • TK, obviously this goes a lot deeper than just Collins and Dean. A massive clean out is required Unfortunately Reti (just like Pence) is tarnished by his support of her and must also go. From reports I have heard about Luxon he is not going to be the saviour some think he will be.

    • What sort of person tries to weaponize an off-colour joke, years after receiving a contrite apology? And Dean’s claim that she is still distressed about the joke years later is disingenuous – if she really is that thin-skinned, she shouldn’t be in parliament.

      “Me Too” at it’s worst.

    • No, she was not abused Liz, she was offended. Quite rightly, but don’t evesdrop. I also find that your description of Bridges being ‘the drunk cuzzie at the party’ a racist slur – intended or not.

    • He apologised for offense, not abuse. He did not abuse her. So now anything taken as offensive is now automatically equal to abuse/harassment and any harrassment/abuse equals rape?

  8. “But they were serious enough that the recent review of harassment in Parliament brought them back up in her mind in a distressing way.”

    Is that so? Dean’s words:
    “That colleague was Dean, who told the Otago Daily Times she mentioned the incident to Collins during a conversation which followed meetings she had attended as assistant Speaker regarding recommendations from the Francis review of Parliament’s workplace culture.

    “I approached Judith several weeks ago about my concerns and the conversation was in the context of the work I have been doing with the Francis review, and I found myself disclosing my experience,” Dean said.

    “The reason I did that was because in the course of looking at the issues … it suddenly occurred to me later in the piece that this had happened to me and that what I needed to be satisfied was that not only does Parliament but also the National Party really have the systems and processes in place to manage situations where an MP and their behaviour is involved.”

    People will put their own interpretation on what was said, what happened, and the context of Dean talking to Collins. Those who want will paint a worst-case-scenario picture and go from there. Collins is one who wanted the incident to be built into some horrendous event.

    Here it has been carried as far as Bridges harassed Dean. And “it certainly will rule Bridges out in taking back the leadership, now or ever.” What? Why not go the whole hog? Hanging party in Bowen Street is it?

    Is the seriousness, the absolute gravity of it down to Bridges apologising? Dean heard a crude comment not intended for her and Bridges apologised because she was offended? Or may have been? A pro forma response being used as if he was apologising for killing 15 grandmothers? (Oops, hope that’s not sexist.)

    I have no truck with any of them. The National Party are Dirty Politics personified, Bridges as much as any of them. The childishness though, the immaturity which is the basis of this, bites us all on the bum.

  9. To answer your question (what’s the problem with National): The same thing that is wrong with pretty much every political party in democratic politics – they don’t represent their supporters. National don’t represent the nation and Labour… …well you get the idea.

    It’s not until political funding (amongst other things) is reformed that these parties will be able to do their jobs.

  10. I celebrated when John Phillip Key scarpered early for unrevealed reasons in Dec. 2016, but felt rather flat about Judith Collins’ self sacrifice yesterday, apart from some curiosity as to why? She clicked revenge up a notch to “pay it back triple” and she got the blow back instead, likely with career ending force. Though no doubt others yet will receive a poisonously scratched face as she goes down for good.

    NZ National’s class backers are still big, very big. Yet “Nashnull” has become small with the likes of “Merv from Manurewa”–an actual Board Member at the time!–and Michelle Boags privacy breach of health info, and Mr Woodhouse’s “homeless man” and the expunging of women like Nicky Kaye and Amy Adams who at least had one foot in the 21st century.

    Really it would be good to see all who can be united in this country, organise to roll back the neo liberal state in 2023 and 2026. Don’t say it cannot be done in this era of pandemics and Climate Disaster and the numerical shift of generations.

    • …”Really it would be good to see all who can be united in this country, organise to roll back the neo liberal state in 2023 and 2026. Don’t say it cannot be done in this era of pandemics and Climate Disaster and the numerical shift of generations”…

      Now ya talkin mate!

  11. not wishing to defend a nat in any way but was the comment directed specifically at her, or was it overheard, 15 yrs for ‘offence’ to kick in is a pretty long bow…but hey if the nats want to destroy themselves..have at it.

  12. How about this: Judith is insane with borderline personality disorder, that is why she sabotaged herself by hoovering up a weird complaint that crossed her path a couple days ago, that apparently got ‘conflated’ by the ‘victim’ into a power play by Judith!! Wow ‘victim’ ( of overhearing a crude joke five years ago, not directed at her) re victimised by Judith!! Wow work that out. Do not understand why that 9am presser didn’t happen tho, it certainly should have.

    • IMHO its all a contrived bunch of poppycock to put the boot into Bridgers, nothing more, nothing less no matter how someone tries to spin it. From the party of Dirty Politics, what more can one expect? The good thing is the Dirty Politics gal just got a taste of her own effluent thrown back at her.

  13. These wildly unpopular National leaders are doing absolutely nothing to curb the advancement of the socialist agenda, which, in New Zealand and the majority of other English speaking countries, is becoming more entrenched by each passing day, or at least so it seems.

    Don Brash. Bill English. Simon Bridges. And now Judith Collins. Not one of them is as influential, popular, or appealing as Jacinda Ardern and Helen Clark.

    And when did politics become a female dominated arena? Well, since the tussle of power between Jenny Shipley of National and Helen Clark of Labour back in 1999. The only male leader in New Zealand politics of any significance in the past twenty years: John Key. That says something.

    Two people alone can claim to be PM of this country for eighteen out of the last twenty two years, one female and one male. The male, John Key, wanted the parliamentary term to be increased from three years to four years.

    But why not something like a 1000 day parliamentary term. You get one thousand days in office at the most, then the other MP’s from the opposition get a term? That’s just over two and a half years per term. The last thing we need is for our political structure to resemble that of the US, as John Key wanted. No, we want to remain independent, unique, and truly us.

    • Daniel Lang: can you give me examples of the advance of this “socialist agenda”? Maybe I’m asleep at the wheel, but I don’t see a lot of socialism in this government. What I do see is an accelerating woke identity politics agenda:

      – radical gender ideology and critical race theory in schools
      – handover of power to tribal elites
      – “hate speech” legislation
      – “conversion therapy” ban that could see parents jailed for preferring “wait and watch” to “affirmation” of their child’s gender dysphoria
      – plans to shift the burden of proof onto the defendant in sexual assault cases.

      None of the above looks “socialist” to me.

    • ” These wildly unpopular National leaders are doing absolutely nothing to curb the advancement of the socialist agenda ”
      Daniel go and look up the word’s socialism and New Labour and try again !


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