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Why we have to get behind Simon Bridges

And I know you hate it, but it is true.

Gee, I hope Cam is having a day off today. Because, although I’ve never met him (I’d love to), I know he will not agree with me on this. But please give me the chance to explain.

This blog has a large number of supporters for Judith Collins – including Cam, of course, who knows her personally. And just let me say that my choice for leader was Judith, with Simon Bridges as deputy. But the general public and even Party members never get to decide who is going to be Party leader. So like it or not (and I know many of you don’t) Simon Bridges is the new leader of the National Party. There it is.

Yes, his diction is terrible, and yes, he speaks in the third person. I agree that the only other person I know who does that is the Queen (and possibly Princess Anne) and I agree it makes him look like a tryhard. But now that he is the leader, let’s hope he goes in for a bit of grooming. David Lange did, and so did Helen Clark. If you had seen them in the early days (as many of you did, I am sure) you would hardly have recognised them from the politicians they eventually became.

Helen Clark

But they took advice, changed their public images, became very palatable to the voters and had successful political careers.

Can Simon Bridges do that? Well, why not? If you try to imagine him with better diction and better public speaking, do you think he might appeal to a few more people? He looks good and that is probably part of the reason why he was voted in. He is presentable.

I’m not saying for a moment that Judith Collins is not presentable. Not at all. And Judith would have been an amazing attack dog against Jacinda. But, there is no reason why she cannot do that anyway. She’s making mincemeat out of Phil Twyford on a daily basis over his Transport portfolio. She’s quick, she’s smart and she can keep doing all of those things from where she is right now.

We are always saying that politics should not be about personalities but it is. Jacinda is a formidable weapon for Labour. Yes, she’s vacuous, hasn’t got a clue about policy, but she has enormous public appeal. Answer this question honestly: do you think Judith would have had the same public appeal as Jacinda? And, if not (as I think the answer is probably not) then don’t you think that National should try to find a leader that might have the same appeal?

OK, you say, but Bridges? Well, if not him, then who? They couldn’t counter a white female plus a Maori deputy with a straight white male, so out go Joyce and Mitchell. Labour has diversity, so National has no choice but to go for diversity too. In banging on about his Maori heritage, Bridges is not necessarily trying to get the Maori vote. He is pointing out that National is no longer the party of grey-haired white men. Agree or not (and most of us on this forum don’t believe in diversity; we believe that any job should be given to the best person for it), the wider public doesn’t necessarily see things that way. Diversity is important these days, and National finally recognises that. So can a male Maori leader and a female Maori deputy match a white female and a Maori male in the diversity stakes? Yes. In fact, they may have gone one better, because National doesn’t have a straight white anything in its leadership. Find a one-legged lesbian for Finance spokesperson, and National will have trumped Labour on diversity all the way.

I know. This stuff shouldn’t matter, but it does. I read some comments on Stuff about Bridges being ‘yet another white male’ even though he isn’t. You just can’t get away from it these days.

Many of you are saying that you will not vote National in 2020. So you are prepared to hand Labour another term, knowing full well that they will wreck the economy within 6 years. Are you really going to sacrifice your country’s future out of spite because you didn’t get the leader you wanted? I toyed with the idea of voting for Winston Peters at the last election because National was not going in the direction I wanted. I was particularly concerned about the high level of immigration. But in the end, I didn’t vote for Winston, although I know some of you did. You said you wanted to send a message to National, but you sent them into opposition. And there they will stay unless you turn out and vote for them in 2020, however badly you feel about it.

I suppose the basic question is would you rather have Simon Bridges or Jacinda Ardern? You can’t have Judith Collins. There has been a lot of talk about her leaving National and forming her own right-leaning party and if she does that, we will all support her. But until she does, we are in limbo. She is not going to be the leader of the National Party. And if that turns you into a Labour voter or a non-voter, well, I wonder how Judith would feel about that?

There is always ACT. Good old ACT, a shadow of what it was in the days of Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble or Rodney Hide. Go ahead and vote for ACT. But before you do, just stop and think for a minute. ACT isn’t going in the direction most of us want either. Yes, there is talk about ACT ‘rebuilding from the ground up’. But it will rebuild itself around David Seymour because he is the only thing that is saving ACT from political oblivion. And my lasting impression of David Seymour is of him lambasting people on this site because they tried to tell him what to do to increase his vote. And as this site is very supportive of ACT, I really couldn’t understand his thinking. He must have misread “Whaleoil” for “The Daily Blog”. Or something. Vodka can do that to you.

On their tour around the country, both Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter are saying they want to take the Government further to the left. Without an effective opposition, this will happen. If the National vote is decimated in 2020, as so many of you hope it will be, it will give Labour and the Greens carte blanche to do what they like. And they will. And then it will take decades for the economy to recover from the damage done by this particular bunch of Marxists. That seems to be OK with some of you. I have to say that it is not OK with me.

Think about what you are saying. In a nutshell, it is  “I am a right-wing voter. I don’t like the direction National is going in, they are Labour Lite (or whatever), so I’ll stay home at election time and let the current bunch of leftist idiots turn the country into the next Venezuela. That’ll show them.”

Sometimes you have to be pragmatic to stop a really bad situation from getting even worse. You all know what I mean. You are an intelligent bunch.

Judith has behaved graciously over the whole thing, admitted her disappointment, tweeted a photo with her hairdresser, and been every bit as effective in the House as before. She must be bitterly disappointed with the outcome, but she hasn’t put a foot wrong. If she can behave with grace and dignity, then shouldn’t her supporters be doing the same thing?

People in my office (most of them being only mildly interested in politics) all agreed that “Crusher” would have made a brilliant Leader of the Opposition. But when it came to her being the next Prime Minister, they were not so sure. National really doesn’t need the shambles that happened to Labour, where they seemed to have a new leader every few months. I believe that, in choosing Simon Bridges, National is looking to the future. You never know, he might turn out to be very good. He thinks he is up for the job. Let’s give him a chance to prove himself.

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