You can imagine Judith Collins feeling chuffed at the buzz over her autobiography this week. The book does what it's meant to do. It reminds readers that she is a very good politician. She might be less chuffed to know the book also does a good job of perhaps illustrating why her colleagues never give her the party leadership.
The fact she's written a book suggests Collins may not have given up on leadership hopes altogether. Can you blame her? The closer we draw to the election, the more National's new leader Todd Muller feels like a placeholder. Muller may be safe pre-election but, if National loses - and the odds, right now, are that it will - he'll be up for reconsideration.
So with that in mind, the book could be seen as an attempt to soften up her image. You rarely see the softer side of Crusher Collins. It exists: she's a mum and a wife and a sister. But her family are featured publicly infrequently, which leaves her only peddling her harder edges.
The book rounds her out. It's endearing how proud she is of the resilience her grandparents and parents showed in raising families in a simpler but tougher New Zealand. It's touching to read how close she was to bursting "into tears" in public after being sacked by Sir John Key in 2014.
The book also reminds us of how capable she is. How she took up studying for a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety while on the backbench. How she kept up that study even after being given hefty ministerial responsibilities again. How, as Opposition transport spokeswoman in early 2018, she started petitions for all those roads the Coalition Government cancelled, establishing a narrative that still punishes Labour to this day. How she then moved to the housing shadow portfolio and tortured Phil Twyford with a relentless flow of negative stories that left him and KiwiBuild so discredited it almost induces pity.
But then we get to the bits about Key. If you ever needed to understand why Collins' colleagues don't trust her enough to elect her, this is as good a reason as any.
Without saying it outright, Collins makes it clear she and Sir John are not besties. Collins paints him as ruthless, recounting how he - she says - acknowledged that SFO-related allegations against her didn't appear to stack up and then told her to resign anyway. In her publicity blitz this week she called him "brutal", then dismissed his "kitchen Cabinet" as a "boys' club".
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It's surprising that a sitting National MP would draw attention to what looks awfully like a rift with the National Party's modern-day hero. Key is one of the two most popular prime ministers in recent history. Most National MPs would actively hunt an endorsement from someone like that or else stay quiet. Few would have the chutzpah to make a point of distancing themselves.
Collins' frankness might well have riled some of her colleagues. At least, that's the impression Paula Bennett gave during her resignation speech when she made the unusual point of mentioning, among her achievements in Parliament, that she'd been part of Key's kitchen Cabinet, directly contradicting Collins' "boys' club" claim.
It's understandable why Collins might've wanted to set the record straight. Her resignation from Cabinet was a blot on her resumé and clearing up that it was a politically motivated decision rather than a deserved punishment does remove that blight somewhat. But was it worth the cost?
The public may well wonder why Key didn't warm to Collins and factor that wariness into their own calculations of her character. Her colleagues may well wonder at her judgement in retelling stories at his expense and factor that into their future decisions around her leadership potential.