Audrey Young tries a different flavour of Kool-Aid, spits it out and goes back to the old flavour

Knock me down with a feather – Audrey Young has written something nice about National. Quote:

There was a time when Leader of the Opposition used to be called the worst job in politics.

That was before Simon Bridges got it.

There hasn’t been a happier Opposition Leader.

The Government has had three miserable weeks out of the past four, mired in misfortune of its own making, including ministerial mishaps involving Clare Curran and Shane Jones, positioning on Russia, and hasty transport announcements.

The Government regained its equilibrium only this week, as it needed to, before Jacinda Ardern could comfortably head off to the Commonwealth Games, Europe and Commonwealth summit during the parliamentary recess.

Its announcement on the inquiry into the Hit and Run allegations of war crimes and the momentous decision to ban any new offshore gas and oil exploration permits has put it back in control.

Whether or not you agree with their decisions, they were measured and reasoned. End of quote.

Ok, that didn’t last long. Four positive lines then a resumption of being a government mouthpiece. She’s back guzzling Cindy flavoured Kool-Aid. The bad news will continue, shortly after the photo ops with the Queen, which are very likely to prove rather embarrassing in coming weeks. Quote:

But the lesson of the past few weeks is clear: the Opposition is capable of capitalising on its weaknesses and that constitutes a very successful start for Bridges.

It was one thing for Bill English to say there has never been a stronger Opposition- numerically he was right.

It is quite another to actually function strongly or competently. But it has, and from the top.

It has been a fairly seamless transition for Bridges who has been in job only 47 days after a five-way contest for the job.

Bridges has benefited from low expectations. Most observers are surprised that he has taken to the job so confidently.

It doesn’t mean he will be able to compete with Ardern for popularity. He is a more polarising figure.

She has it over him in the House on most days but he hasn’t disgraced himself yet.

His biggest challenge is not to be liked but to be noticed by voters, and then to present himself as a strong alternative. End quote.

He needs to adjust his attacks in the house because, even though he is making Jacinda Ardern look snarly and nasty, it isn’t working. It would be better to use those questions to beat up dead-set useless ministers, of which there are many to choose from. Make her sit there in despair at being ignored. Quote:

Fortuitously, two of the Government’s biggest issues of the day, roads and oil and gas, Bridges knows backwards as a former Transport Minister and former Energy Minister.

And agree or disagree with him, they have given him a platform to speak with some knowledge and authority.

Both issues will have a long running life in the term of this Government and both are defining issues.

Not least they will both be crucial to National’s bid to undermine New Zealand First as self-proclaimed champions of the regions.

The Government mishandled its transport announcements – a hike in fuel excise across the country and ditching the next set of significant state highway projects (such as four-laning Wellsford to Whangarei) in favour of greater public transport funding in Auckland including rail.

The lasting impression is that regional New Zealand will be subsidising the transport demands of Auckland. End quote.

That is precisely what is happening. There will be no improvement in regional roads in time for the next election, but millions in taxes will have been stolen from the provinces to fund Twyford’s tram to the airport. Quote:

Ardern and Robertson began in earnest on Monday to blame the previous Government for anticipated limitations of the Budget on May 17.

In the days leading up to Monday’s press conference, both had variously suggested former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman had been responsible for leaky buildings at Middlemore and that desperate health boards had been using their capital expenditure on operational expenditure (pretty much a sackable offence).

In the absence of any supporting facts, Ardern decided to call the situation at Middlemore “emblematic,” a label which seems to mean it can still be used for political purposes even if it is not true. End quote.

Sometimes Audrey can deliver up a top-class sledge and that one is weapons grade. The media know the Middlemore scam is a scam. They know there is no evidence of the claims made. Quote.

Simon Bridges did the only thing he could do and insisted if the previous Government had known about it, it would have fixed it – and kept his fingers crossed that no one in National had been told.

The contradictory messaging will no doubt continue up to the Budget: Bridges is saying National left a sound economy and the books in excellent shape with plenty of options for the next Government; and Ardern is saying Labour is having to make up for so much under-spending in health and education that things will be tight.

At some point they will be switching – he will be lamenting the state of the economy and she will be taking credit for revitalising the health and education sectors.

Bridges has cause to be happy with his start as Opposition Leader but it is not a role he will be happy having for too long. End quote.

If he doesn’t improve National’s position, or his own, he will come under pressure. Right now that pressure is non-existent.

Audrey Young’s column was a bit Jekyll and Hyde. It is almost like she feels guilty and embarrassed at chugging Jacinda’s Kool-Aid, but she still enjoys the sweet, sweet taste of it, while sneakily trying another tipple.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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