Judith Collins

A scandal can be distinguished from a controversy. Immigration policy became controversial in the 90s, the foreshore and seabed in the 2000s. Even though there were bungles, and offensive views and policies were aired, the underlying issue was always sharp disagreement over core values and policies.

In a scandal, the underlying issue is wrong-doing.

Except when it’s a 'Kinsley gaffe', named after the first political botanist to identify this species in the wild. In these cases, the scandal occurs when a politician says something that is true but they shouldn’t have said, rather than does something wrong.

The timelines are damning, the hits this week revealing. But in the end none of it matters, because it all comes back to that dinner and what we knew months ago

So Judith Collins survives her 48 hours on the cliff's edge and heads off on holidy with the title "honourable" still in front of her name. Which is hardly surprising really, because while all the MFAT documents clarify and compound, they don't convict.

On their own, the odd golf game, visa waiver or dinner doesn't shake public confidence in a government. Until something happens that pulls the threads together and puts them in a new light... Enter Maurice Williamson...

In his 2000 book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell made sense of the way social trends and ideas seem to suddenly take on a life of their own, by comparing them to viruses. The way Hush Puppies became popular again because a few New Yorkers took a fancy to them, for example.

Judith Collins wants to go to war with the media. That probably is ... not wise.

When Bill English warned National's northern region conference that the upcoming election would be "close", he meant it as a caution against complacency. Judith Collins, however, appears to have misinterpreted it as something of a personal dare.

While Judith Collins was in China, she perhaps should have read some Sun Tzu: “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”

It's a new week, and so the beginning of a new political era. Why, then, am I bothering going all the way back to the ancient past of the start of the month, in order to write about Judith Collins' by-now-infamous and well-raked-over troubled trip to China last year?