Tribal National supporters are ecstatic that Simon Bridges has declared that he won’t have a path to victory. Their disconnect from the reality of the situation is astonishing. Let’s look at the claims.

Winston can’t be trusted because he sued National two days before the last election.

This one is astonishing. National supporters ignore that National was donkey deep in spreading rumours of a pending issue for Winston Peters over superannuation. Anne Tolley was briefed and then stupidly asked her ministry for more information under a misapprehension that it was covered by no surprises. She discussed the matter with at least 10 people, amongst them her own sister, her husband and her staff. She admitted to that in court. National operatives were spreading rumours around the press gallery and on social media before the news broke. One was a staffer in Paula Bennett‘s office, someone well known for leaking, and who has coincidentally recently resigned. So for National to talk about a lack of trust is astonishing in its hypocrisy.

Winston doesn’t honour his promises.

No politician, perhaps with the exception of Donald Trump, honours their promises. This is a consequence of MMP. John Key never honoured his promises. He raised GST, added new taxes and generally rode roughshod over core National party principles. We have had two chances to get rid of MMP and both failed, the last because John Key rigged the referendum so the vote was split. He genuinely thought he could govern forever under MMP and when he discovered he couldn’t he bolted for cushy jobs outside of parliament.

This decision will send unhappy NZ First voters to National.

Really? Then how come National is behind in every poll except 1News? If this is the case then why hasn’t NZ First’s vote approached zero in recent polls? The numbers don’t lie and the maths doesn’t work in National’s favour. Every scenario that shows them winning needs heroic assumptions to make it work. The two big parties usually slide in the final weeks and smaller parties grow in support. That is likely to still be the case. Deny the maths all you like but on the latest numbers out of UMR, Simon Bridges plan doesn’t work. Labour 41, National 39, Greens 7, NZ First 7, Act 2. That seven percent from Winston isn’t going to go magically to National. Those people will still vote for him, they certainly won’t vote for someone who has dissed their leader like Bridges has. Do the math, there aren’t enough votes to get Bridges to the prime minister’s chair.

NZ First slid from 12.5% to 7% at the last election, this election will see them slide further.

Yes, they did. However, in past elections, the smaller parties’ vote increased at the expense of the larger parties. The last election was an aberration for two main reasons. NZ First’s slide coincided with two things. The first being the National dirty tricks over Winston’s superannuation and secondly a surge from Labour after ditching the poorly-performing Andrew Little for Jacinda Ardern.

Those supporting NZ First that saw them climb to 12.5% weren’t National voters, they were Labour voters, and they went home. National didn’t grab ANY of that slide, yet somehow they think they will now. National’s vote hasn’t increased in the intervening two years, its slowly ebbing away, not growing. One per cent has gone to ACT, but that doesn’t help National. Some, the soft middle, are pretty happy with Labour, and National has now declared that they don’t want friends. Simon Bridges is expecting us all to believe that from his own personal rating of 5% he can best Jacinda Ardern and Labour with only ACT helping, something that John Key, despite his more than 50% personal rating, never achieved.

Every time NZ First has been in coalition with someone it ends in tears.

True, but with a qualifier. Every time NZ First went into a coalition in the past it was with a third term government. There hasn’t been any government with more than three terms since Sir Keith Holyoake, a gap of more than 48 years. The Bolger/Shipley government was three terms, the last with NZ First. The Clark government was three terms, the last with NZ First. The Key/English government was three terms and ended, I suppose because of Winston Peters too, ironically, but not because of a coalition. This time it is different: this is a first-term government, not a third term one.

Winston Peters was always going to go with Labour anyway.

Are people forgetting that his first coalition was with National? Are people not considering that Winston Peters would on the balance of probabilities have had a greater chance of going with National this time around to keep the king-maker narrative alive. Bridges has taken that off the table now, so now it becomes a truism that he will go with Labour. But it is also true that Winston’s narrative will now be that National can’t win any more and so only a strong NZ First can keep the Greens out or in check, along with softening the more socialist extremes of Labour.

Ruling out Winston Peters makes me more likely to vote National

Why? National is a less socialist party than Labour. So far we have seen National agree with Labour on almost everything, especially climate change. On almost every policy issue so far this term National has been found wanting. Simon Bridges just seems to have become Little Sir Echo, saying “me too” to everything. The mantra seems to be that National aren’t quite as shit as the other lot, plus we don’t like Winston Peters. That is hardly a groundswell to change the government or to vote National.

People vote for things like health, security, jobs and the economy. They don’t choose a party because of who they may or may not form a coalition with. Apart from aggrieved gun owners, who have been dumped on by every party in parliament except for ACT, there is no groundswell of anger at this government.

I’m not supporting NZ First because they brought in the gun law changes

Yes, and so did every other party in parliament except ACT. With the proposed second tranche of gun laws, supporting ACT can’t and won’t do anything to get those amended in any meaningful way. There is only one party who can seriously affect those changes right now. NZ First has seen the shift in polling, only a fool would ignore that, and Winston Peters is no fool. He’s not going to let ACT get any more support from gun owners and the best way he can stop that is by substantially altering the proposed laws to something far more sensible. ACT has one vote, and maybe after the election 2 or three votes, but the legislation is before the house now, not after the election, so blindly supporting ACT won’t change a thing right now.

I cannot stand the way our MMP system works – it is totally flawed how it allows horse-trading after the vote.

That’s not going to change. To expect that it will is folly. We have had 24 years of MMP and will have many more. Whining that you don’t like the rules is like a cricketer whining about being ‘Mankadded’. It’s within the rules but people get their knickers in a bunch as it’s supposed not to happen in the spirit of the game. The rule has never been changed since Mankad famously used it in 1948 against Australia. Same goes for MMP…get over it, that’s our system, time you got used to it.

Bridges has made a principled stand, he should be commended.

What tosh. If he has, it’s the first principled stand he’s ever made. However, that is beside the point. What he has chosen is to remain in opposition. So much for “saving” the nation from Labour. Given a choice between swallowing one’s pride and removing Labour from government, he’d rather be pious and sanctimonious and let Labour win. That’s like the Democrats rushing to impeach Trump before Christmas because he shouldn’t be president for a second longer, then holding onto the articles of impeachment for over a month.

New Zealand can’t survive another term of Labour

Another trite bucket of cow dung. We’ve survived Labour before, we will do it again. We even survived nine years of Muldoon, then six years of Labour then nine of Bolger and nine of Clark. I think we can survive another three years of Labour. We will have to anyway because that’s what Simon Bridges would rather do than do a deal with someone he doesn’t like. He’s made the choice to give Labour another three years.

I don’t really have any hard facts to support the fact that Winston is terrible, let’s call him a traitor, treasonous, corrupt and duplicitous anyway because that will make me feel better.

Yeah, that has always worked well. MMP was designed to foster cooperation. National seems to think that demonisation of personalities is the way forward. That is the politics of poison and it poisons your own party. Parties need to learn to work with other parties not talk past them. Brazen partisan politics is unbecoming and almost always destructive. It is also puerile and negative. You don’t win office by having hordes of puerile partisans mouthing off on Twitter. You win by looking like you can be trusted.

Simon Bridges emailed supporters and said this:

This Labour/Green/NZ First Government has failed to deliver for New Zealanders. The cost of living has gone up, taxes have been piled on, there’s been no new infrastructure, and crime has risen making your family less safe. New Zealanders have been let down and we can’t afford another three years of this incompetence.

Simon Bridges

If that is true why is National behind Labour in the polls, not 20% in front and why are Bridges’ net favourables 60% behind those of Jacinda Ardern?

If you can answer those two questions then you may be some way to finding the path to victory for National. You should give Simon Bridges a call because he sure as hell can’t answer that.

I know readers don’t like hearing this, but where possible I have provided facts, history and proof. I welcome you to challenge me with your own facts, ones that don’t rely on heroic assumptions for your dreams to become reality. Try it as an exercise, refute me if you can. Research the polls, average them to gain a sensible data point, then try and work out precisely what path to victory exists for Simon Bridges. I ask you to do that for your own good, so you can see for yourself just how improbable it is to suggest that Simon Bridges can do that which eluded John Key.

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