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Thursday, 1 March 2018

Burning Simon Bridges

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!

So, congratulations to Simon Bridges for winning the second round of ballots (I would love to know who got knocked out first; I must remember to ask T next time I see them) to get what is without a doubt the most difficult job in politics: leader of the opposition*.

And while Bridges was not my first choice he was certainly not my last (that goes to a tie-off between Joyce and Mitchell) as given the field of candidates the caucus could have done a lot worse than choose bridges. However the choice to retain Paula Bennett as deputy I do think is a serious mistake as she is part of the Gang of Five clique and little more than a heavily soiled receptacle of political gibberish and atavistic greed.

Bridges, to his credit, has come out of the situation talking conciliatory talk and even making a few political admissions (like regarding the Housing Hernia and tax cuts) which show that he (or Mathew Hooton) knows better than to crow it up and strut around in the wake of a five way leadership contest and instead opt for a period of healing rather than brutal consolidation (that will come later).

Also, there has been talk of a reshuffle of roles in the shadow cabinet (there is that consolidation we noted) and some murmuring of a policy re-set (although I will believe that when I see it) and even bridges “discovering” his Maori background so you can’t say that he is not doing his best to keep things on an even keel in this time of transition for National.

But in the current political climate such things do not go without comment and nobody was wasting any time on having their say.

From the left side of the spectrum comment on Bridges win has been predictable with the Daily Blog summing up the winners and losers accurately but top points go to Gordon Campbell for beating me to the punch in noting the eerie similarities to now and 2002, with the then anointment of Bill English to leader and his being sent on the “suicide mission” of trying to win the up-coming election, to Bridges and the pending 2020 election.

However if there were some negative and catty comments from the Left about Bridges that pales to the either mute (possibly stunned) silence or outright vitriol from the Right.

Who would have thought it but its seems that Bridges may not have to worry about getting fried like a crispy chicken in the house over Nationals (and his) links to the Shane Jones “slush fund” scandal but instead may need a fire retardant suit to deal with the backlash from conservative commentators and his own party.

Picture the scene: Bridges has just moved his box of stuff into his new office, passing a dejected looking Bill English in the hall and, on entering, notes that Bill has not emptied his rubbish bin (now overflowing with used tissue and treasury papers) like he said he would. Then Simon unpacks and places his feet up on the desk, taking a moment to savor the view and the scent of the air so close to the apex of political power while figuring out if he can get access to the “secret menu” for leaders that Bellamy’s is rumored to have when he is interrupted by his secretary alerting him to Barry Soper’s negative review of him in the NZ Herald.

Less than 24 hours into Bridges job as leader and the knives were out and Soper was first cab off the rank in the attack by saying that National, under Bridges, “were counting themselves out of the next election” only to follow up later by calling his first full day as leader “rubbish”. Of course it’s clear that Bridges was not Soper's first choice for taking over National but even I don’t feel that cruel to kick a man on his first day on the job. Jeeze Barry, way to be a bitch!

And for the record its completely wrong to say that electing Bridges was going to lose National the 2020 election as any of the five candidates would have had a herculean task ahead of them and, as already noted, be more than likely heading out on a suicide mission in trying to beat Jacinda first time around.

But wait there is more with well-known John Key fetishist and Right wing aficionado Mike Hosking getting the boot in followed by his media parasite partner Kate Hawkesby, stating the obvious (and as already noted incorrect) view that the 2020 election is a bust under Bridges. Neither of these two dimwits knows what they are talking about and are just parroting the same tired message, of sticking with the Gang of Five (ie no change) as well as echoing what the blue bloods in Remuera think, rather than considering the bigger situation.

And there is more than just a hint of snobbery at play from Hoskings and Hawkesbury, as with Bridges and Bennett (the new B Team) at the helm of National NZ has its first fully Westie political leadership, so it’s not going to be hard to see how the older and patrician elements in National are going to feel about leopard skin d├ęcor and Holden burnouts on the Beehive lawn.

Having mixed and mingled with them (the National party) before I am very aware that it’s important to have been to the right (or possibly Right) school and have an appropriate ancestry (ie nice and WASP) to be accepted**. Bridges and Bennett will be working hard to make friends in those circles but it’s well known that Bennett is already despised due to her background and given the reaction so far it seems that Simon has his work cut out for him.

Even the normally vocal Kiwiblog has been rather silent on Bridges ascension with nary but this one post about who the blogs readers think should have been leader (hint: it’s not Bridges). Maybe David is taking his time and seeing whats what before giving his opinion but its rather unlike him to not fire off at least a quick post on such a subject quick smart.

My take on all of this is to wish Bridges well and the best of luck as while he has made it to the top it’s clear that the struggle has only just begun and he will have to get the house of National in order before he even starts taking Labour to task (and with the TPPA and Shane Jones slush fund scandal there is work for the opposition to do).

Also I am willing to give Bridges kudos for taking the risk in a role he must know is not safe or secure given the political climate and for making even minor deviations from the long held National party line but as I said at the start of this post, being opposition leader is the most difficult job in politics and Simons difficulties have already begun.

Finally I must admit that when I heard of Bridges winning the job the first thing that popped into my head was this I Dream of Jeanie skit from Robot Chicken. I am not sure why but with time (and help from my therapist, psychic and accountant) I am sure we will know.


*-In some countries you can be jailed, tortured or even killed for being an opposition leader
**-And for those wondering about mine, I did go to an acceptable school but lied outright about my heritage as I have a mixed background and am a failed catholic to boot


  1. I'm confused, do you think Bridges has a chance in 2020 or not?

    You compare him to English's 2002 "suicide mission", but then say that the view that the 2020 election is "a bust" is "incorrect"?

    1. Hi Anon:

      Given the usual mechanics of the NZ electoral cycle, a previous govt is not going to get back into office after one term in opposition hence why sending anyone from the opposition into the leadership role in a down cycle election (2002 and 2020) is viewed as a "suicide mission" or "a bust".

      The normal range is six to nine years (with recent govts doing 9 year stretches (but with the caveat of having to go into coalition for the last term) so a shot at govt after only three years in opposition is not likely to be long enough to rebuild a party's image or for the new govt image to be worn down.

      So the issue is not Bridges chances, as anyone from National at this time who wanted to be leader and contest the 2020 elections would have a hard ask.

      Bridges is potentially a decent candidate but in this circumstance (if things hold as they have previously) then history is against him.

    2. So the 2020 election is a bust, then...?

    3. Yep, a total bust. But why not celebrate the failure? National can work on its opposition game, which is a potentially more lucrative option politically than desperately trying to get back into govt.

    4. So why are Hawkesby and Hosking's statements that the 2020 election is a bust "incorrect"?

  2. Bridges has no chance in 2020. None. He is as charismatic as a toad frog in the sugar fields of Bargara.

    1. I agree on the first point but I don't know any Baragaran toads socially so I will take your word for the second.

  3. I should have said Bridges would have no chance in 2020. He won't be leader in 2020, I don't think. But then the corruption and Atavism [ good word EA, a clinical word ] is still alive and well there, so anything is possible.

    1. As I note above this is less about Bridges and more about the electoral cycle. Bridges could spend an enormous amount of his political and personal capital on what is essentially a quixotic quest at this time, maybe in six or nine years things will be better but right now.... not so good.

  4. I suggest that Simon Bridges is the very model of a modern politician. He is a man who has mastered the arts of cultivating friends in high places, evading responsibility and studiously avoiding any kind of political principle. A brand without a product. I would not presume to speculate on his political life expectancy, but I can say that if he does survive to the next election it will signify a sad state of affairs for the National Party and the people of New Zealand.

    1. You say he is the model of a "modern politician".

      Historically, have politicians been different?

  5. Hi DPF, I am still around but I have a few life/work moments that need my attention.

    Also blogging on politics has gotten kinda dull as of late as all I am doing is reacting to what happens and its just not fun so I am taking some time to re-think how I blog to come up with some better approaches. Maybe just go through a rant phase for a few months and see how that goes. I was getting too close to writing like the media does and it was just painful so time to come up with some new ideas.

    hence why its been a bit quiet here but stay tuned I will be back soon.

    Thanks for commenting on my absence though, nice to know at least someone noticed. :)

  6. Quite a few would have noticed and wondered. Good to know that you are still around.

    1. Awww guys, your making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, stop it!

      But thanks for the kind words anyway, I should be back up this week with a new post entitled: Why I am happy the Russians hacked the US Elections

    2. Is this post part of your plan to write less like the media?