Collins' axing unavoidable in the end

21:47, Aug 30 2014
PM
STEMMING THE BLOOD: Prime Minister John Key.

It is hard to remember an election littered with so many tripwires. John Key's decision to bring the guillotine down on Judith Collins yesterday was an attempt to stem the blood flow over Dirty Politics and put National's campaign back on track.

But sacking a senior minister just three weeks out from an election when voters have a heightened awareness of politics is risky business. The fact that Key was prepared to do so speaks volumes about the size of the liability Collins had become. She could have cost Key the election. She still could. The allegation she was in cahoots with a shock jock blogger to undermine the head of the Serious Fraud Office is serious enough. But there may be more allegations to come.

National will be grateful Labour is in such a parlous state. That will protect it from bleeding support. But voters turned off by the ugliness may turn to the Conservatives and NZ First instead.

Key was slow to axe Collins because of her power base within the caucus. It is no secret that Collins had a coterie of admirers. Winston Peters alluded to that this week when he claimed one of Key 's MPs tapped an intermediary to sound him out about dealing with her as leader on a post election government.

But it is a sign of how far her star has fallen that none of those admirers will likely take issue with Key's move against her yesterday.

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