Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way, so the song went that hit the air waves in 1980. It came out five years after Ashburton primary school teacher Jenny Shipley joined the National Party, and listening to her reflections on the two years she spent as New Zealand's first female Prime Minister, that song resonated as she told us of her drive and her ability to have people follow her.

Did she want the job that Jim Bolger had held for the previous seven years? It became inevitable, she schmoozed. Having broken that glass ceiling, she said it wasn't exceptional then that Helen Clark followed her onto the ninth floor of the Beehive. But it was inevitable!

But in reality, rather than laying the ground work, she'd dug her own grave. In fact National had hung on by the skin of Jim Bolger's dentures, ever since Shipley and her buddy Ruth Richardson took the meat cleaver to welfare in their first term, cutting it by up to 25 percent and raising the pension age from 60 to 65.

Twenty years on Shipley remains unapologetic, reasoning you can't have people on welfare earning more than those out working for a crust. In 1993, National went from a landslide win to a one seat majority and three years later only made it back into Government, thanks to Winston Peters.


So ironically Shipley can thank Peters, who she later sacked, for her place in history, not that any gratitude's being forthcoming on that front. On her collaboration with Richardson, she bristled with indignation when it was put to her, with her musing it's easy to "poke the torch at the girls in the family," saying men in politics are seen as bold whereas women are viewed as vindictive.

Well on this one the cap seems to fit with her once accusing Jim Bolger and Winston Peters of running the country on a bottle of scotch.

But as she said, she went into politics not to be popular but to make change and that she did with some saying the gap between the haves and have nots has got worse as a result.

Today Shipley says too many people are on middle class welfare, citing student allowances for kids from families who can afford to have them educated. And even she feels sick going to the doctor these days, knowing her visit's subsidised.

It seems the illness though doesn't extend to the perks that are available for life to former Prime Ministers though, with the Shipleys travel bill for the three years ending June 2014, just on $71,000, not to mention her annual salary for life, new cars and travel which, after she dies, can be passed on to her spouse.

Now who's feeling ill?