Should he stay or should he go?

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, April 17th, 2019 - 68 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, national, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags:

Poor Simon.

It appears that his leadership has entered into the stage where some sort of leadership coup is almost inevitable.

Mainstream media commentary thought that he was safe for now because no one in their right mind would take on Jacinda Ardern while she is so dominant.

But repeated gaffes involving Jami-Lee Ross and the emotional junior staffer appear to be taking their toll.  And polling at 5% as preferred Prime Minister shows that Bridges has major problems.

From Tova O’Brien at Newshub:

National MPs are speaking out against their leader and Newshub has been told of agitation behind the scenes.

The National Party Caucus is now proactively coming to Newshub with concerns about Simon Bridges’ leadership, and Newshub has been told people are doing the numbers for Judith Collins.

There are mixed views, but a number of MPs have told Newshub that Bridges’ handling of recent problems hasn’t been up to scratch, with one MP even describing it as “incompetent”.

And the leaks continue to happen:

National MPs are also leaking – big time. Just minutes after a caucus conference call on Monday, Newshub was leaked details about the meeting. 

As for any signs of a coup, on Tuesday MPs anonymously told Newshub: “It’s happening.”

One MP said: “For some time, MPs have been concerned about the direction of the leadership.”

Another described the caucus as “unsettled”, while another said “numbers are firming for Judith”.

But others say Bridges is safe – for now – and that Collins doesn’t have the numbers to roll him.

Of course this could all be dirty politics of the style that Kevin Rudd engaged in against Julia Gillard to undermine her.  It worked.  But it destroyed Labor’s electoral popularity in the meantime.

And the pile up reminds me of what happened to David Cunliffe in 2014.  I thought that was unfair but I cannot deny that it was effective.

Finally this Clash song sums up the dilemma for poor Simon.  Hope he stays.

68 comments on “Should he stay or should he go?”

  1. lprent 1

    It’d certainly be good for Labour & Greens & NZ First if he stays.

    However I suspect that it’d also be good for them if Judith Collins was there to expose her multitude of political weaknesses.

    The risk for them is if there is someone of currently hidden competence inside the National caucus that’d surprise me like Jacinda did. Fortunately they do seem to be a pack of useless dipshits.

    • Ardern had to be persuaded to take the job against her own self-doubts. Can’t see that level of self-perception being a common feature among Nat MPs…

      • Phil 1.1.1

        Ardern had to be persuaded to take the job against her own self-doubts.

        If true, that would make her literally the first political leader in all of history to have well developed and nuanced sense of self-perception.

        I think you’re confusing ‘self-doubt’ with ‘political calculus’.

        • te reo putake 1.1.1.1

          Second leader. The first would be Andrew Little.

        • mickysavage 1.1.1.2

          Nope she could have taken the position at any time. Chosing to take it when Labour’s polling was tanking shows what a selfless decision it was.

          Agree that Little also showed well developed and nuanced sense of self perception.

        • mac1 1.1.1.3

          There is a political wisdom that says the best leaders are the reluctant leaders. Self-doubt maybe comes into it, but low ego and lack of recognition or support by fellows are also factors. Low ego, or lack of “vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself”” as Shakespeare put it, is my pick for this reluctance.

          When to step down is often an ego-driven decision, too. Simon Bridges has that particular cross to bear at the moment, whether it was thrust upon his shoulders or self-assumed.

          • Phil 1.1.1.3.1

            There is a political wisdom that says the best leaders are the reluctant leaders.

            This is basically the Platonic/Socratic ‘Philosopher King’, right?

            • McFlock 1.1.1.3.1.1

              Partially, but it’s a focus on why the person wants the office. Self aggrandisement vs actual public service.

              The p/k doesn’t lust for power, but does the rational thing when they’re the best person for the job (or stands down when someone better comes along).

              But a reluctance to be leader can be the result of an underappreciation of one’s skillset/appropriateness, manoeuvering to hand the poison chalice to one’s biggest rival so you take over after they fail (Nimitz/Kimmel come to mind), or an appreciation of either the toll of leadership or that one might end up liking it too much and becoming a corrupt tyrant.

              Not all of those reasons make for a good leader, but most of them imply someone who is open to hearing the opinions of others. At least initially.

      • Ad 1.1.2

        Oh pleeeeeeze

  2. I was mulling over a post reminiscing about the 2002 ‘worm’ election, MS, but this is as good a place as any to give my reckons.

    In short, it was so obvious that Helen Clark’s Labour Government was going to be re-elected that National voters swarmed over to ACT, United Future and NZ First hoping those parties could hold back the red tide. And partially, that worked, with Labour falling 8 seats short of an outright win.

    National’s vote collapsed under a leader, Bill English, who was seen as dull, charmless and uninspiring. The Tories ended up with just under 21% of the vote, ten percent less than they had at the previous election, which in itself had been a low point.

    I see the same thing happening next year, no matter who runs National. The damage won’t be as bad as in 2002, however, I expect around 5% of their core vote will switch to Winston Peters, hoping he will be a handbrake on Labour’s ambitions for the second term.

    And I also expect ACT to pick up 2 or 3%, rather than their usual one. Seymour has actually done a good job since the last election, keeping his party in the news, and in some ways, being the real leader of the opposition.

    National’s real problem is not Simon Bridges, it’s the lack of alternatives in their caucus. They risk repeating the mistakes of Labour in opposition, chopping and changing leaders in the hope that one might find favour with the electorate.

    Clearly, National currently have no Jacinda Ardern waiting in the wings to rescue them. However, if they’re smart, they’ll accept the inevitable defeat next year and work to get as much of the deadwood out of caucus as possible in the hope that they can do better in 2023.

    PS. Sing Brother Joseph, sing Brother Joe!

    • Tiger Mountain 2.1

      Go or stay, makes no odds, Nats are in for a hard time in 2020.

      Comfortable boomer voters will likely not outnumber their late 20th Century and 21st Century replacements; generation student loan and generation renter, and less well off boomers have different priorities.

      Not that it can necessarily be predicted where the younger votes will go. There are always young Torys and reactionaries it seems. But many get Jacinda Ardern’s emotional approach/appeal. The Codgers don’t understand it, they want stoic, unflinching “strong men” or “strong Crushers”.

      The Nats are friendless at this stage apart from the Epsom Twerker, plus the Referenda, especially Cannabis, will help sink them if they let the likes of Mrs Bennett continue.

      ps Mick Jones vocal, like their later period, and the Clash never played bloody Israel!, I like to think they would not go now either…

    • Phil 2.2

      National’s real problem is not Simon Bridges, it’s the lack of alternatives in their caucus.

      What I’m about to say may come across as a little bit of backward-looking ‘over-fitting’ of data, but… it struck me that National leadership contest in 2018 was the first time since Bolger and McLay, in the mid-80’s when they fought over a post-Muldoon party, that National’s caucus didn’t have an obvious front-runner in place to take over leadership of the party.

      Shipley, English, Brash, Key and English (again) were all well known to the public. Looking at the preferred PM polling data, for all of them there was an almost immediate switch-over of National voters to the new leader when they took the reigns of the party, regardless of where the party stood relative to Labour. Bridges hasn’t been accepted in the same way and that harms his legitimacy.

      • BM 2.2.1

        Because anyone with more than two brain cells could see he was a wrong choice.

        Just had nine years of Key(a man), we’d had Trump grabbing pussy, the pussyhat movement and the National caucus picks a deeply religious conservative male as leader?

        WTF? Stupidest selection ever.

        I’m a Collins supporter for a number of reasons, but at the time of English stepping down I’d have taken either Kaye or Adams as long as it was a female and not because I think females are better than males.

        But because the game has changed, you need a woman leader if you’re going up against a female PM especially in their first term, a male will eventually beat Ardern but it won’t be until 2023 or 2026 if she does decide to stick around.

        Only a female opposition Leader has the ability to make this a one-term government and out of the three, Collins is the best choice.

        That’s not to say she will win in 2020, but she’s got a far better chance than Bridges, at the moment it’s no contest.

        • Phil 2.2.1.1

          Collins is the best choice.

          Caution. Anecdote ahead.

          My mother is in her mid 60’s and a has been a dyed in the wool National supporter for most of her life. She wasn’t overly fond of Key but had no hesitation voting for National under his leadership. She really liked English. Her friend group of similarly-aged women all have broadly centre-right political views, based on the occasional political conversations I’ve had with them or overheard.

          I’ve not heard any of them say a single nice thing about Judith Collins. She may have a small coterie of ardent hardcore support, but she is despised by the vast majority of National voters.

          • logie97 2.2.1.1.1

            “…despised by the vast majority of National voters”
            For Collins, read Thatcher. Prior to the Falklands, the majority of Tory voters in the UK at the time held their noses as they voted for a Conservative government.

          • BM 2.2.1.1.2

            That’s hardly surprising many women of her age have been crushed all their lives by institutional sexism and societal pressure when growing up of how women are supposed to behave.

            Outspoken “ball breakers” are bad, that’s not how women are supposed to behave!

            It’s the same mindset that stopped Hillary Clinton winning against Trump and why Shipley was widely disliked

            Younger woman are far more aggressive and many probably find Arderns sickly sweet Mother Teresa persona a bit one dimensional and off-putting, I reckon Judith will pick up quite a few votes there.

            Remember Judith Collins doesn’t have to get all the women voting for her, all she needs is another 5-10%

            I still think she’ll win over quite a bit of the over 60 female vote once she’s been in the leader’s seat for a while and they’ve gotten used to it and she’s demonstrated that she’s not just fangs and bark.

    • Anne 2.3

      National’s real problem is not Simon Bridges, it’s the lack of alternatives in their caucus.

      Someone who has impressed me as a future National leader is Chris Bishop. He has the smarts and a pleasant personality to go with it. He strikes me as a moderate who would not undo the good work of the Ardern govt. He’s young enough to withhold his candidacy until the time is right – maybe 2023 or sometime thereafter.

      • ankerawshark 2.3.1

        RE Chris B Anne. I was at parliament when the banning semi automatics petition was presented, just before the govt announced they would do so. Bishop spoke and praise Jacindas leadership, in more than just perfunctory terms.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    There’s a way for him to apply both/and logic to his situation and come out a winner. Here’s how he ought to frame it at his next press conference:

    “I’m proposing that the National Party adopt the principle of gender equity. I’ve asked Judith Collins to serve as co-leader, and she has agreed. We put the proposal to our caucus, and they agreed. We will propose ratification of the plan to our next AGM.”

    “This gives our members who believe National should remain an operational arm of the residual patriarchy the opportunity to defend the status quo. I have a line for them: make my day! They’ll need to tell our female members to behave themselves and do what they’re told. Good luck with that!!”

    “There will be some who see this as a master stroke and wonder who the master is. It ain’t me, babe! We in National use think-tanks to do our thinking for us & they sure have come up with a brilliant plan, eh? Enables us to out-flank Labour on the left! They’ve had a quarter of a century to copy the Greens yet still refuse to do so. They preach gender equity, but nobody expects Labour to practice what they preach – they’re the natural party for hypocrites.”

    “Some will suggest I’m incapable of leadership, so I’m proving them wrong. Leaders nowadays are expected to follow the public mood and the latest poll establishes a relation of parity between Judith and I. So I’m giving the people what they want. Equal leadership, leading by example. Get used to it.”

    “I’ve also suggested to Judith that she convene a caucus of our female MPs to evaluate our culture review when it becomes available. I will endorse any decision they make about the credibility of the review process. It may alert us to a need to replace party officials involved. I’ll not be answering any questions you may have today, so I suggest you submit those to my co-leader. Thank you very much for attending this historic announcement.”

    • Puckish Rogue 3.1

      No, absolutely not.

      • Wensleydale 3.1.1

        All or nothing, eh Pucky? The Glacial Queen must reign supreme or not at all? Speculation or not, you must be on the edge of your seat at these revelations.

  4. Stuart Munro. 4

    Let him vacillate until he’s taken down in a shower of blood.

    I guess the villain’s exposition might go something like this:

    “It was me – I was the leaker, you credulous saps! I could’ve made this party into something, but you schemed and dragged your feet, and did no work. I have no sympathy at all.”

  5. Jimmy 5

    I think it it will make no difference whether Simon leads them in to the next election, or Judith or someone else. In fact I would have thought they would want Simon to stay there and take the next election loss rather than another person.

  6. ianmac 6

    Seem to remember Key being a keen supporter of Parker, or was it Cunliffe. Just as we want Bridges to stay so turns the wheel.
    Perhaps those Labour supporters who were polled by Brunton should have voted for Bridges?

  7. cleangreen 7

    Bridges was “walking dead man” since he took over from his boss (Steven Joyce) as he ran the National Party as their “strategic policy man didn’t he?

    And Joyce is about as welcome as a greasy meat pie in a vegan parlour.

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    I’ve advised Jude (as per my role as court jester) to wait until after the next election before she ascends to role as PM in waiting

    Short of something completely calamitous happening to LabourI dont see any likely chance of National regaining power so Soimon needs to do the right thing and take the hit thus leaving the way clear for Jude to take the throne, which she will in 2023

    • cleangreen 8.1

      Shit Puckish you are reaching out to 2023????

      Will we have a ‘fishbowl’ in Wellington by then instead of a ‘bee hive’?

      ‘A bit fishy isn’t’ it’???

    • mac1 8.2

      Regarding Shakespeare’s fools ( I was one once, as Touchstone). “It is argued that Shakespeare’s clowning goes beyond just comic relief, instead making the horrific or deeply complex scenes more understandable and “true to the realities of living, then and now.” (wikipedia on the googled ‘Shakespearean fool’)

      Shifting the focus from the fictional world to the audience’s reality helps convey “more effectively the theme of the dramas”.

      Best of luck with that, Puckish Rogue…… 🙂

      • Puckish Rogue 8.2.1

        I’ve been up since 0415 so without going through your post I’ve chosen to believe its positive towards me so thank you:-)

  9. Anne 9

    At least she might have sufficiently mellowed out by then not to be too damaging to the country. 👿

  10. cleangreen 10

    PR

    Well Judas had better try some “trump charm eh”??

  11. Macro 11

    Stay! He’s doing such a wonderful job for the Government.

    • bwaghorn 11.1

      Im pretty sure when i se the news tonight hell be claiming victory over the cgt . Saviour of the kiwi way of life and all that .
      It may get him a stay of exocution.

  12. McFlock 12

    The problem for them is to find someone who ticks more than one or two of the boxes Jacinda fills.

    Judith is as female as any cthulu-inhabited flesh-husk can be. Unfortunately she doesn’t have Jacinda’s empathy, ability to work with others, caucus loyalty, intelligence, charisma, or integrity.

    Any other nat might have a couple of those aspects, but the Judith will always be behind them handing out sharpened knives. Because she wants the job – even if she doesn’t get PM, she inflates her CV for corporate investors.

  13. Observer Tokoroa 13

    Topsy and Turvy

    Both Judith Collins and Simon Bridges appear to have attractive friends in China Land.

    One Chinese has accepted nice digs in our Parliament in view of his active Military experience in the Art of Spies. He said he never spies on New Zealand things ??? . He is an ongoing gift to National. A person we know very little about.

    Others like Judith Collins, have traveled the long distance to China to wash down their Kauri remains. For purposes not yet explained. But everyone feels pretty sure it could not have been for the bettering of the Poor, back in Struggling Papakura. Judith has been helping Papkura go down hill for years.

    The Chinese although attractive, are very Inscrutable. Everyone knows that. A list of Collins inscrutable efforts would assist well meaning voters. Such as, When Judith took over The Police Ministry and immediately forbade Police to attend to any Household Theft and Robbery. Crikey Jude. !

    Inscrutable.

    I often think The Auckland Herald is as Inscrutable as the National Party Caucus. The Herald’s silence reminds me of Bhuddha.

    I am however, a supporter of our Chinese Residents. Not of our oddball Politicians.

  14. Michael 14

    Another nine months of infighting and backstabbing before Crusher gets the numbers to knife Bridges early next year. That gives her insufficient time to knife Jacinda before the 2020 election.

    • cleangreen 14.1

      Not now as Jacinda just announced she has killed CGT.

      So she will get more solid support now from the middle NZ voter now, and took the wind out of Judith’s sails.

      Poor soul Judith is, – boo – hoo

      Masterful stoke of genius from Jacinda there.

  15. JohnSelway 15

    He should go. He’s a nitwit anyway and I’m sure was only picked to reflect his age and “newness” compared to Ardern.

    • McFlock 15.1

      His “newness” seems more comparable to Neve’s.

      And now I just realised that the look on Bridges’ mug is frequently the same sort of pharaonic gaze that quiet babies get as their nappies are being changed.

  16. Ed1 16

    I don’t really care. There are better things to discuss.

  17. AB 17

    He will chalk up the scuppering of CGT as a win – Audrey, Mike and the others will say so. He will be re-positioned as the defender of the ‘hard-working’ against rapacious socialism. Expect a rally in his support.

    • ScottGN 17.1

      Audrey doesn’t quite it seems, she’s on the Herald video with that Doogie Howser reporter marvelling at the PM’s ability to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. And points out that Ardern has cleverly knocked the ladder out from under National going into the next election.

  18. Dave Jennings 18

    I think Simon is doing a good job, keep up the good work Simon . the National Party will be relegated to the opposition benches for a long time. And the National party deserve it, for the last ten years all they have done is shit on this country.

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    Well simon has plenty of competition in his caucus, it is a very level playing field.

    After all being the leader of the opposition is not known to be the best job in the world.

    I cannot see a scramble for his job.

    OBTW I do love bridges claim that nationals opposition to the cgt made Winston resist the cgt. Winston would have been listening to his electoral base, not simon. We all know what that gold card base would be telling Winston. National’s leaks of winston’s personal matters do not suggest that winston cares what national thinks

    Given winston’s overt disdain of bridges leadership the bridges claim is lunatic.

    As I said before the national party caucus is a level paying field.

    Pick your lunatic.

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