I have consistently refused to get involved in the criticism of Simon Bridges, mainly because a lot of it was just nasty and spiteful. Mocking someone for nothing more than his accent is childish and unnecessary, and I refuse to go there. Simon Bridges should be a role model for a lot of people; an educated Maori man with a strong legal background, a lovely family and a successful career before going into politics. He should be the next prime minister… but I think that is very unlikely now.

What exactly was Bridges thinking by supporting the government’s hopeless Zero Carbon Bill? That this bill is just another bit of virtue signalling by this hapless government is obvious, but it also has the potential to wreck the economy by including the reduction of methane emissions in the overall picture. This bill will wreak havoc on agriculture, and on food supply, and with a total contribution of 0.17% of global emissions, New Zealand is not going to save the planet singlehandedly. We will simply go to hell in a hand cart, pulled by a horse that is dragging us back to the Stone Age for no good reason whatsoever.

Bridges did not need to vote for the bill; the government had the numbers anyway. He would have been better off refusing to support it and appealing to his own support base. He must have done this for a reason, but I’m damned if I can figure out what that reason might be.

He stated that National will make some amendments to the bill in their first 100 days of government. That could be 7 years away, or even 10 years. The damage will have been done by then. Does Simon think that voting for this bill will allow them to sleepwalk back into government? Have you listened to talkback radio in the last few days, Simon? If the reaction there is anything to go by, particularly from disgruntled National voters, you will be on the opposition benches for a long time to come.

Even I, a diehard National voter, am perplexed and dismayed by this act of barbarism towards our economy. In one fell swoop, Bridges has slashed the support for his own party, for no good reason whatsoever.

Was Bridges trying to emulate John Key when he supported the anti-smacking legislation? If so, he has got this badly wrong. John Key was trying to appeal to soft Labour voters by distancing himself from the hardline approach that Don Brash had taken, particularly with his involvement with the Exclusive Brethren. Simon Bridges may well be trying to appeal to ‘soft’ Labour voters, but that is not much use when he has just alienated a significant chunk of his own party’s grass roots support.

All over the world, voting is split between cities and rural areas. The cities support the left-wing parties, and the rural areas support the right wingers. This is particularly true in the USA, but it is just as true here. Bridges might be trying to pull more of the city vote, which is fine, but it looks to me as if he is making the mistake of assuming that, no matter how bad it gets, the rural voters will stand by him anyway. I am not so sure about that. Sure, it would be a cold day in hell before most farmers will vote for a party joined at the hip with the Greens, but most conservatives are a little more careful with their vote than simply ticking the blue box every time. This could be good news for ACT, already predicted to bring in 3 or 4 MPs at the next election, with a possible boost for the New Conservatives as well, as disgruntled National voters ‘send a message’ to their party that their vote should never be taken for granted.

We saw what ‘sending a message to National’ did in 2017. It gave Winston Peters the balance of power, and he chose to go with Labour and the Greens, even though none of us ever dreamed that would happen.

A year out from the election, it looked as if National was in with a chance of forming a government, particularly if ACT could bring in a couple more MPs and form a credible coalition partner. I am not so sure now. ACT is a good alternative for those who think that National has crept too far to the left, but ACT cannot do this alone. ACT needs a healthy swag of National MPs in parliament for it to support. Will National manage that in 2020?

All in all, in one fell swoop, it looks to me as if National just lost the next election. In the face of the most incompetent government of all time, National has probably just gifted the current Coalition of Losers another 3 years in control. And it won’t matter if Simon Bridges boldly declares that he will not do a deal with NZ First, because some of those disgruntled voters, with nowhere else to go, will vote Winston anyway. That should put NZ First over the 5% threshold, and the whole ship of fools that is the current government will be back in business once again.

I feel as if I am stuck in a witches curse, where the headlines in the year 2060 will read:

“Winston Peters, leader of the NZ First party, which has just reached the 5% threshold for the 14th time, is in discussions with both major parties about forming the next government.”

Okay, Winston will be 115 by then, so it is unlikely, but sometimes it feels that way, doesn’t it?