Liberal party VVD leader Mark Rutte and his challenger, Rita Verdonk, must think we are stupid.
Verdonk, the immigration minister nicknamed ‘the dragon’ for her scorched-earth style of politics, yesterday held a press conference in which she ‘suggested’ her party set up a committee to look at the consequences of her getting more votes than Rutte in last week’s elections.
What she really said was: my plan to campaign solely for myself with a vote-for-Rita bus was a great success… everybody knows I’m the real leader; so let’s boot Rutte, the softy left-winger, out.
She said she was ‘surprised’ by how much media attention she got. What she really meant was that she was pleased at the result of her carefully managed PR campaign.
Verdonk was subsequently hauled over the coals by Rutte, who said that there was no split in the party. His face was twitching as he spoke. What he really said was that Rita was given a bollocking and a last chance to behave. There will be no leadership review, said Rutte.
So Verdonk had lost? No, said Verdonk. So she had won? Well not exactly, said Verdonk.
The problems are now sorted, said various prominent VVDers. But we’re not stupid: it will be a fight to the death.