Vernon Small is supposed to be clever, he is rather pink coloured and enbedded deep within Labour and so when you read articles like his one this morning you really wonder if he is so embedded in the left he has no idea what actually goes on outside his state funded cubicle in the Press Gallery.
Especially when he makes silly statements like this:
The really tricky one is how to deal with Judith Collins, a senior minister at the heart of his government who has clearly taken her friendship with Slater too far.
How can a friendship go too far? What sort of friendships does Vernon have? You know attending concerts with Labour MPs and staffers in Martinborough? (Yes Vernon you were, I was sitting two rows behind you and the Labour “friends”)
Key has opted for the lesser of two evils by keeping her on with only a mild rebuke. (â€˜â€˜Unwiseâ€™â€™, in the glossary of political discipline, is somewhere near the bottom of the rising crescendo that passes through inappropriate and ends up at inexcusable and unacceptable for a minister.)
The alternative was to sack her or issue a much stronger rebuke, but on that he was boxed in by the final warning he gave her for not being full and frank with him during the Oravida controversy.
Also, a tougher response would have given credence to Hagerâ€™s book, which Key has been at pains from the day it was published to avoid doing.
That begs the question what he will do with Collins if he is prime minister after September 20.
She could be offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of a deal with Winston Peters â€“ he is no fan of Nationalâ€™s hard Right â€“ with a Cabinet demotion. That was unlikely before the events of last week.