Political commentator Brigitte Morten says candidate Stephen Jack's resignation shows National has 'decisive leadership'

National's candidate selection process has taken another blow after the resignation of Stephen Jack, but a right-leaning political commentator believes Christopher Luxon has shown "decisive leadership". 

Jack, the National candidate for south Dunedin's Taieri electorate, resigned on Wednesday night after two controversial social media posts came to light.

The first was a sexist joke he shared online in 2020 comparing COVID-19 and young women: "I like my COVID like I like my women. 19. And easy to spread." The second offensive post, reported by media on Wednesday, showed Jack reposted a poem on Facebook, which Newshub has seen, likening then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Adolf Hitler.

"Cindy's showing us her colours; we know why she chose red. She started out a communist and lately, this has spread," the poem read.

"Just as Hitler had the SS, our Prime Minister's on the job. She's given up on the police and bought the Mongrel Mob."

Lawyer and political commentator Brigitte Morten told AM Early on Thursday she wasn't surprised by Jack's quick resignation.

"I think National has been really clear they won't tolerate bad behaviour by their candidates and by their MPs," Morten told host Michael O’Keeffe. 

"So they've been really clear that going into this election they want to be talking about issues - moving a candidate on who demonstrated that they don't have the appropriate judgement to be a candidate seems entirely appropriate."

Morten also believes Jack could've been quietly pushed out by Luxon, so the party could focus on the issues rather than itself. 

"I think the speed at which this has happened shows there is decisive leadership and that the standard has been set," she said. "I think without a doubt there probably was some encouragement there but it needed to happen." 

Jack's resignation comes just days after another National MP was blasted for comments he made claiming "every single person in New Zealand" is guaranteed tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty) under the Treaty of Waitangi.

One academic described the comments by Southland MP Joseph Mooney, who's also the National Party's Treaty Negotiations spokesperson, as "an utterly incomprehensible interpretation of Te Tiriti".

But Luxon said he continued to have confidence in Mooney.

"We have big debates about the Treaty in this country… not ideal to be having it on Twitter and, also, I think Joseph got it wrong on this occasion but I've got confidence in him," Luxon told AM on Wednesday.

Lawyer and political commentator Brigitte Morten wasn't surprised by Jack's quick resignation.
Lawyer and political commentator Brigitte Morten wasn't surprised by Jack's quick resignation. Photo credit: AM

Morten doesn't believe these two latest sagas are influencing National's brand just five months out from the election.  

"I think you've got to be careful about not inflating the two issues. Joseph Mooney was trying to have a nuanced treaty debate on Twitter, which is absolutely not the right place for that to happen. Quite different, I think, from really bad jokes that Stephen Jack was making," Morten told AM Early. 

"Without a doubt… though, [they] distract from what National wants to be talking about, which is about issues, not about themselves."

Watch the full interview with Brigitte Morten in the video above.