The Herald reports:
Jami-Lee Ross’ recording of Simon Bridges reveals that the National Party leader thinks his MP Maureen Pugh is “f***ing useless” – but it is questionable whether it has any solid evidence of electoral fraud.
It doesn’t. In terms of the donation issue it is a fizzer. He over promised and under delivered.
In discussing getting some new list MPs to make way for some new ones, Bridges said: “I reckon it’s all three of our MPs who … not thinking of obvious ones like [Chris] Finlayson or [David] Carter, but actually we just we just want them to go. Like Maureen Pugh’s fucking useless.”
Ross responds by adding National MP Nicky Wagner’s name to the list of MPs who may not be wanted.
Bridges responds that he doesn’t want them all to go “this year”.
Here we see the real agenda. A senior trusted MP recorded private conversations with his leader, so he could use them against him later. Such a betrayal of trust.
Of course the tape recording is embarrassing to Bridges and the MPs. That is why Ross is releasing it. But every party leader has frank discussions with senior colleagues about caucus members and caucus renewal. Not just party leaders. Most of the last year people have speculated on who will go and when.
And yes talking about the relative value of MPs from different ethnicities happens also. Parties want to appeal to voters from all ethnicities, so they look to have MPs from various ethnic groups. And as the number of places in a caucus is limited, you discuss what is the higher priority. It doesn’t mean it is the only factor. The individual ability of the candidate plays a large part, but the discussions recorded is quite standard in politics.
A former senior office holder in the Labour Party once told me how they saw the relative worth of different MPs. Off memory it was Mainland Chinese then Hong Kong Chinese then Taiwanese then Sikh then Hindu Indian etc etc. Conversations tend to be quite crass, because you don;’t bother with the caveats such as “all other things equal” etc.
So the tape is embarrassing to Bridges (and Ross most of all), but is a total fizzer when it comes to the reason he claimed he was releasing it.
Ross seems bent on the politics of personal destruction. Maybe he also secretly recorded caucus meetings and will start releasing them. But wow is he going to struggle to find many people to talk to him in future, if people think he is recording them fur future leverage.