Claire Trevett: Memo to Judith Collins from Jacinda Ardern


The last day of Parliament is traditionally a time for a bit of joviality, so Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson delivered his usual roast of his rivals, the National Party.

It came in the form of imaginary real estate listings of former MP Paula Bennett, who now works for Bayley’s real estate.

“The Blue family are looking to downsize,” Robertson read from his imaginary listing.

“After having one careful owner for nine years and then a series of bad short-term tenants, the Blue family house is a renovator’s dream: tired, with a bland colour scheme.”

National’s leader Collins responded to his dig about the National Party’s leadership carousel and election result by having a dig at Robertson over Labour’s own housing policies.

It takes a fair bit to make the National Party laugh these days. Robertson, who suffered nine long years in Opposition himself, knows that.

Mention of the election to the National Party is akin to mentioning the super over of the Cricket World Cup in 2019. It is still too soon.

The first 1 News Colmar Brunton poll since the election showed why.

There was no sign voters were suffering from any voting remorse in the almost three months since the election.

The poll results were very similar to the election results. When voters cast their votes, they did not know the exact result those votes would deliver.

But the poll was essentially an endorsement of that election result: from the disappearance of NZ First to Labour being able to govern alone.

Nor had Labour done anything with that power since then to peeve those voters off.

There was no sign of dissatisfaction about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to include the Green Party in the government, albeit it outside Cabinet.

One of the theories of the 2020 election result was that National Party voters supported Labour in a bid to ensure the Green Party did not have too much influence.

The poll rather dispels that as any strong factor in the election result. In short, voters supported Ardern because she deserved it and because National was in a state of ruin.

The poll showed little has happened since to change that view of National.

In a recent end-of-year interview with Newstalk ZB, Ardern was asked about her statement during the campaign that if she lost the election she would resign.

Ardern said it was her belief that if a leader did not deliver an election win they should step aside to give somebody else a go.

Ardern was not intending it as a jab at her rival, National Party leader Judith Collins.

But the latest Colmar Brunton poll indicated many voters feel the same way.

Collins’ rating as “preferred Prime Minister” had dropped from 20 to 12 per cent.

The only relief for Collins in the poll was that, as yet, there is no clear (or at least ready) contender to succeed her.

Collins and some others in National have convinced themselves further leadership changes will only destabilise the party further.

That is only true if the successor is the wrong person.

In being certain of that, the polls do matter. The greatest attention is on newcomer Christopher Luxon, who got 2 per cent support in the poll.

Luxon’s ratings will almost inevitably grow – it is where Ardern too started.

But there is no imminent danger to Collins. Any redemption of Simon Bridges seems unlikely – he was on just 1 per cent.

However, National’s pack of 33 MPs will now disappear for a couple of months.

There will be some “reflection”. Reflection may or may not be a synonym for “plotting”.

The National Party’s review team will also report back on its findings early in the New Year, and that may not help Collins.

On Thursday, Collins delivered her own perception of the election campaign at Victoria University’s regular post-election review seminar.

As well as leaks and blunders, Collins blamed the campaign team and “themes” she inherited from Todd Muller’s very short time as leader, saying she had stuck with it given the short run-up to the election.

Someone within National later suggested it could be called her “alternate reality” address.

Those around at the time said Collins had held a meeting to say she intended to do things “my way,” and rubbished much of the plan set up for the Muller campaign.

It is likely Collins was referring to the themes on National’s billboards, including “strong team” and “better economy”, which were made a mockery of by National’s ructions.

However, if Collins was unhappy with things she had the power and license to change it.

Robertson’s parody of real estate listings had a prediction about the new year for National: “A recently arrived tenant has flown in saying he may want to make an offer fairly early in the new year. So watch this space.”

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