The mystery deepens

Radio NZ reports:

RNZ revealed this morning a person who claimed to be the National Party leaker pleaded in an anonymous text for the inquiry to be called off. They warned they suffered from mental health problems in the past and said being exposed publicly could push them over the edge.

This may or may not be true. If the texter is the leaker, they may be just trying to close the inquiry down to stop their identity being discovered. Or they may genuinely be mentally ill.

Mr Bridges said the text made clear to him that it was from the leaker.

“The text stated that the leaker was in the National caucus.

“It also made quite clear that this person had a prolonged serious mental illness … and their very clear view in the text message that there would be significant harm to them if the investigation by Speaker Mallard proceeded.

The text has made things worse for them, if it is true. You’re not going to get an inquiry called off by sending anonymous texts. If there are genuine mental health issues, then you need to own up to what you did, and see if there is a way it can be resolved without naming you.

In terms of who it might be, there seems to be three broad options:

  • A National MP, as claimed
  • A National staffer
  • Someone hostile to National

Radio NZ said:

In the message, the author said they had leaked the expenses because they disagreed with Mr Bridges’ leadership style, describing him as “arrogant”, and wanted him to be held to account for his spending of taxpayers’ money.

To me this seems a weird argument to make if they are a National MP. Having a new party leader do a tour of the provinces is pretty much exactly what any new leader should do.

And the tone of the text is without contrition. It is basically attacking Bridges further. If the text was along the lines of “I made a terrible mistake under pressure. I was angry about x, and gave the spending figures to Newshub, and regret it” then that is more plausible. But having a National MP try to screw over their party leader using data which is going to be public in a few days anyway is not a logical thing to do.

But if the person is mentally unwell, then you don’t always think straight.

It may of course not be a National MP. The Herald reported:

Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper has told Mike Hosking Breakfast that he understands it isn’t a National Party MP.

“It could be anyone with a burner phone,” Soper said.

“To me it’s a storm in a teacup.

“Some National MPs are on their way to Wellington today, but not for a spill. It’s a show of support for Bridges for when he speaks to the media this morning.

“It was quite a detailed text but, as I understand it at this stage, it isn’t a National MP – but we’ll have to wait and see.”

It is a mystery.

RNZ said it had not seen the text, which is believed to have detailed a number of conversations and pieces of information from National caucus meetings over a period of weeks in an attempt to prove the author was a National MP.

National MPs are known to talk to non MPs about what happens in caucus.

I hope the issue can be resolved quickly. If the leaker does have mental health issues, they need to get help. But they also need to understand there are consequences for actions. The public hate disunity, and if this is someone within National they are screwing over all their colleagues and friends.

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