Barry Soper on the selection of Bridges

Barry Soper is an astute political observer. You don’t get to stay in his job for as long as he has without having some smarts in the business.

You certainly didn’t see him speculating or inteviewing his keyboard on the numbers, like Lloyd Burr.

His opinion yesterday on Simon Bridges was short but brutal:

While the National Party whips were counting the votes for Simon Bridges after the second ballot in their super secret caucus yesterday they were also counting themselves out of the next election.

They truly sealed that fate when they did the head count for Paula Bennett over Judith Collins for the deputy’s job. The party’s MPs have ignored, likely at their peril, the wishes of their rank and file supporters who were solidly behind Collins. And they can kiss goodbye to Winston Peters with Bennett part of the mix.  

That was the spite of Bill’s mob and the old tuskers who are set to exit leaving the party with the leadership they voted on.

The new leader is even more morally conservative than Bill English, so when he talks about generational change he’s simply talking about his 41 years, not about where his head is.

National’s rock solid support, which has been hovering around the mid-40s, will soon become sand through the hourglass. The glass will be set at between a year and 18 months when the party will be spooked by the falling opinion polls, and the vultures – and as we’ve seen by this contest there are plenty of them – will start circling.

Bridges’ generational change then is about as solid as his claims to his Maori heritage and that of his deputy, neither of whom have made much of it in their rise up through the ranks; not altogether surprising considering their new leader is just three sixteenths Maori and Bennett’s grandmother was half-Maori.

They’re now fully fledged tangata whenua it seems and he’s pleading for the Maori vote, which is unlikely to wash.

Buggered if I know why Bridges is banging on about Maori. They simply do not vote, never have voted and never will vote for National. Parading that in front of the members is just red-rag-to-a-bull stuff. It is no surprise that membership cancellations are flooding in thick and fast.

The new leader sought to impress about how inclusive he was going to be, even to those who stood against him. He declared National as the party of “Crusher” Collins and of Nikki Kaye and Chris Bishop, who both publicly backed Amy Adams, and yes he was at it again “of Simon Bridges”, he said of himself. Just as well considering he’s now leading the shop.

He really needs to stop talking about himself in the third person. While he is sorting that out he should stop starting sentences with “I think…” or “Look, I think…” because that just shows you don’t KNOW. And, because you can say “fundamentally” and “substantively” doesn’t mean you should.

Curiously no mention was made of Adams. Word has it the pair initially thought about presenting themselves as a team but argued over who would be the leader and the idea was ditched.

Just how inclusive he is will be revealed in the coming weeks with his shadow cabinet reshuffle, or payback time for those who supported him.

Bridges has a choice. He can butter up (Sh)Amy Adams and her crew, or he can shore up the base by treating Judith Collins well. So far his choices haven’t been that flash, so expect the damage to National to continue.


-NZ Herald

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