Richard Harman yesterday burned all his sources as he continues to fight a rear-guard action against the quiet suffocation of the enemy within the National Party.

Judith Collins appears to be now crushing her opposition within the National Party.

First she forced Nick Smith to resign and now she has done the same thing to Todd Muller.

She is removing opponents and bolstering up her supporters.

Both the Smith and Muller moves are connected to her desire to have her long time loyalist, Harete Hipango back in the caucus.

Muller, a critic of Collins,  has been forced to resign for bad mouthing Hipango to a journalist.

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There was absolutely no reason to go about slagging off an MP about to join the caucus. That was pure spite and a direct attempt to undermine the leadership. Todd Muller has always been a sneaky weasel who lacked the courage to say out loud what he whispered behind people’s backs. This time he got rumbled.

Harman goes on to reveal his sources who have been undermining the party and the leadership:

But Muller’s retirement will further underline a growing gap between National’s caucus and its rural membership.

It will also reduce farmer pressure on another Collins loyalist, her numbers man and current agricultural spokesperson, David Bennett.

Farmer organisations have been lobbying Collins for some time to have Muller appointed agricultural spokesperson in place of Bennett.

Bennett has got himself offside with farmers in part by what they claim is his low profile on major issues but also his criticism of organisations like Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers for working with the Government on major issues like climate change rather than attacking it.

In a pointed move, DairyNZ did not invite Bennett to address their 2021 Farmers’ Forum in May but did invite Muller who spoke on mental health.

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So let’s get this straight: farmers’ groups have been undermining one of their own, David Bennett, who is a farmer, so they can put in place a green womble who is wetter than the ocean and who is a great champion of the climate change scam? What are these fools thinking? David Bennett is proof positive that the leadership in National think being just like Labour but less shit is not a winner.

Harman then rather contradicts himself by reading far too much into the nomination of two board candidates.

The concern about the way the caucus is addressing farmers is also evident in the fact that, two prominent farmer political activists have been nominated for National’s Board.

Grant McCallum is a former board member and well known as a political commentator on farm radio shows, “the Country” and “The Muster”, and John Sunckell is an ECann councillor who has taken a leading role in the debate about irrigation and water on the Canterbury Plains.

Their nomination speaks to a frustration among farmer members of the party that they are not being heard.

That is compounded by the lack of representation within the caucus.

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That lack of representation in caucus is purely because National under Bridges and Muller had become so woke that they lost the rural seats in the 2020 election. Farmers showed the party that they’d prefer to vote for Labour and get the real thing, rather than a shadow of a National party that looked and sounded like Labour but wasn’t. Caucus will be happy to see Grant McCallum elected after years of chucking his name in the hat and then withdrawing it once his stroppy missus found out. Grant has always been the life of the numerous parties whenever in Wellington, hence his popularity with MPs.

MPs will be in two minds about Muller’s retirement.

There will be some, obviously  including Judith Collins, who believed that he should retire after the dramatic events of last year when he precipitated a leadership challenge against Simon Bridges and then x weeks later stood down citing mental health issues.

There will be others who recognised the critical role he played in developing policy like National’s support for the Zero Carbon Act and who saw him as one of the decreasing number of liberal voices in the caucus who they believed could still contribute as a Minister.

His announcement yesterday came as a surprise to close friends and associates.

He said it had been a difficult decision “because being a Member of Parliament is a huge privilege, but it does come at a cost. I have decided that I need to prioritise my health and family and move onto the next chapter of my life.”

Pointedly he singled out his work on the Zero Carbon Bill as a  political highlight.

“At a national level, I am very proud of the work I did with James Shaw in creating bipartisan support for climate action and achieving cross-party support for the Zero Carbon Act.

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That explains a lot about Todd Muller. He is actually proud of working with James Shaw to economically sabotage New Zealand’s economy? People like Todd Muller were always in the wrong party. They are dripping wet and hopelessly enamoured with the climate change scam.

Any National MP who crows about how great it was to work with James Shaw is actually the enemy within.

Muller did not support the direction on climate change being pursued by the party’s current spokesperson, Stuart Smith (another Collins loyalist)  who has been echoing the views of the New Zealand Initiative, who favour using only the Emissions Trading Scheme to control emissions.

Such a proposal could bring agriculture into the ETS, a move that would be opposed by farmers.

The ETS is a sensible way to manage the climate change scam. But again Harman has revealed that Muller was undermining the leadership in this as well. How he can continue to front up in parliament after his appallingly executed coup and subsequent failure as a leader continues to baffle me. Now that he’s been outed as a disloyal, undermining, back-biting weasel it shows that he has no shame in continuing to remain in parliament.

There are 11 candidates standing for four vacancies on the party board. Two, Alastair Bell and  Stefan Sunde, are sitting members. The full list of candidates is; Grant McCallum, Liam Munro; Aryana Nafissi; Jannita Pilisi; Felicity Price; David Ryan; John Sunckell; Stefan Sunde and Sylvia Wood.

That number of candidates for a party board election is unusual and is an indication of the depth of feeling among members that it is time for the party to be rejuvenated.

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Alastair Bell will be on the receiving end of a backlash against the board, mainly because Peter Goodfellow is still there and can’t be rinsed. He is evidence of a moribund board and needs to go. Stefan Sunde is also likely to get the chop. He’s been missing in action on the board.

Thankfully Leigh Morrow had enough self-awareness to realise that her close association with Paula Bennett and Jake Bezzant was toxic to her candidacy and has withdrawn.

What Harman has missed in his pathological pursuit of a leadership scandal is that the current board’s attempts to control the type of change in the constitution is likely to meet resounding defeat at the conference, especially their plan to be able to appoint board members rather than have them elected. The two biggest regions are opposed to this and that issue is now seen as a proxy for a vote of no confidence in the board and the presidency of Peter Goodfellow.

Richard Harman’s article reveals much about the enemy within the National Party. Judith Collins has been quietly suffocating wokeism within the party, and that is a good thing, not a bad thing as Harman would have us all believe.

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The Quiet Suffocation of the Enemy Within
Cam Slater

Cam Slater

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...