Blogger Cameron Slater has said he maintains regular contact with National leader Judith Collins.
“Judith’s a good friend – I communicate with all my good friends,” Slater said.
Collins courted controversy on Friday for her response to a blogpost of Slater’s on the BFD website, outing the microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles for a trip to the beach with a friend under Covid alert level 4 rules. Both were unmasked, appearing to contradict advice Wiles herself had given earlier.
Collins weighed into the controversy, calling Wiles “a big, fat hypocrite” in a Zoom meeting with Pacific members of the National Party.
Slater reposted these remarks on the BFD website, describing them as the “sledge of the week”.
Slater, who is not a member of any political party, has been a controversial figure in National for a little over a decade.
Better known for his own blog, the now-defunct Whale Oil, Slater copped some heat in the wake of Nicky Hagar’s book Dirty Politics in 2014, for what appeared to be smear campaigns of public figures.
Since then, Slater has been frozen out of some parts of the National Party.
But gained renewed prominence this week with a post outing what he alleged was Wile’s hypocritical attitude to lockdown rules in Auckland.
Wiles said her friend was in the same “bubble” as her, although she acknowledged her friend’s swimming was in breach of the rules.
Collins’ remarks did not go down well with all members of the caucus, who saw the remarks as an attack on Wiles’ appearance – something Collins denies.
Slater said he and Collins kept in good communication.
“Judith’s a friend, we communicate with each other on a regular basis – sometimes she’s just checking up on how I’m going with my health,” he said.
Slater said he was “absolutely” a backer of Collins.
“Judith has one of the rarest qualities that exists in politics and that is loyalty.
“She’s shown compassion and understanding and friendship to me, and I pick up what’s put down and the same goes back the other way,” he said.
Collins declined to comment for this story.
The mood of the caucus appears unchanged by Collins’ comments on Wiles.
Wiles herself is not popular among many National MPs, who privately argue she is too closely aligned with Labour and the Government.
The Herald reported last week that backers of former leader Simon Bridges were accelerating a plan to potentially have him regain the leadership. The mood for change appears unaltered by Collins’ remarks on Wiles.
Other MPs acknowledged that the desire for change among the caucus appeared to accelerate in the wake of Collins’ controversial return to Parliament.
Any coup is unlikely to happen in the next few weeks while Auckland remains at level 4, restricting the extent to which National’s considerable number of Auckland MPs can travel.
While MPs are allowed to leave Auckland, it would be a bad look to flee the city for the purpose of a leadership coup.
Parliament is currently in recess, meaning most MPs are not in Wellington.
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