This month marks the second anniversary of National’s anointment of Simon Bridges as Party Leader. It would be fair to say that there was a high level of surprise by his selection. He really wasn’t on the radar before he suddenly became leader and many wondered openly about exactly what the Nats saw in him that wasn’t immediately obvious.
Two years later as we approach an election, it has become obvious (to everybody it would seem except the National Party), that Simon Bridges doesn’t appeal to the electorate and actually, the more the electorate sees of him, the less it likes him.
It’s not like this is some kind of isolated aberration in the polls. Mr Bridges has polled poorly consistently since the day he became leader. That the party appears to have managed to hold on to its popularity through many of those same polls is of little significance really. If the leader can’t connect with the people who do the voting, it’s a major problem for the party no matter how they try to spin it and if they are unable to address this problem before the election, the voters certainly will, in the poll that counts the most.
The past week hasn’t been one of his best with high levels of confusion about his on again off again announcement about whether they’ll work with NZ First after the election.
Finally, on February 12 he told Newshub:
“No ifs, no buts, no time,” said National leader Bridges when probed by The AM Show host Duncan Garner. “I want to end this charade we’ve been in.”
The thing is that there is no way National will be able to govern alone following the election. They will be completely reliant on coalition partners and the truth is, right now they only have one: ACT. Will ACT and National be enough? Only time will tell.
But here’s a scenario worth a thought.
Despite the PM’s protestations about the wonderful working relationship Labour has with NZ First, we all know that Winston’s tail has wagged the Labour dog several times since they coalesced. If you were Ms Ardern, with such a high personal popularity rating despite the complete lack of delivery, wouldn’t you rather like it if you could “Kiss and Say Goodbye” to Winston?
Imagine the pleasure you would get as prime minister, if following election 2020, you have the numbers (which is looking highly likely based on current polling), to govern with the Greens at the exclusion and expense of the wily silver-haired old fox.
While this would be a complete disaster for the country, utu can be a sweet, irresistible feeling and this is an entirely plausible possibility. Which is why Simon Bridges might well have made a very bad mistake to discount NZ First (or indeed anybody else) at this time.
The electorate has a short memory and the optics for Labour, thanks to our compliant MSM, don’t look all that bad. Mr Peters will argue that he’s kept them all honest as promised. It will be surprising if he and his party are not there following the election. Where will Mr Bridges be?
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