Watching National's Health spokesman, Dr Shane Reti, on TVNZ yesterday morning was instructive:
In four minutes, he managed to undermine both his leader and deputy leader - refusing to twist th knife Collins had attempted to plant in Labour, by acknowledging the government was doing "the best they can" and they were confronted with a "hard problem" and referencing a "productive" meeting with Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
This moderate - dare I say commendably mature attitude? - distances him from Collins' complaint about the government withholding information from National and Brownlee's conspiratioral mutterings and indicates a fissure between three of the four most important people in the putative National government just weeks out from the election.
If the chap you've got lined up to be Health minister is quietly signalling he doesn't agree with the leader - in the middle of a pandemic - it doesn't give voters many reasons to be enthusiastic for you.
Covid is kinda of a big deal in 2020 and National have blown their chance to actually make the government look shakey on it by being even shakier themselves.
With the polls suggesting National will struggle to reach the 35% threshold Collins has indicated represents 'victory' in her curiously inverted world, perhaps Reti is looking beyond the election, aware that he has a future – either in in politics, academe or medicine – and Collins and Brownlee do not?
He seems to represent a less dangerous future for National and - given there will occasionally have to be National governments - that needs to be encouraged. All the more reason for centrists inclined to (sometimes) support National to vote AGAINST the party this year - to crush the Collins leadership and drive her faction (promoted by Cameron Slater and his allies through dirty tricks and blackmail, as outlined in Dirty Politics) out of the party.