A fight to the political death

Some months ago, the National party made their intentions clear to Jami-Lee Ross that his political career with them was over.  Ross calls this his “falling out” with Bridges.

Was it arrogance, or carelessness, or simply weak leadership that the National Party did not finish Ross off at the time?

Instead they let him live, politically speaking, but took out a flimsy insurance policy by collating a dossier on his inappropriate behaviour with female colleagues, which they let loose this week.

The insurance policy was too little, too late because Ross had already been given all the time in the world to retreat and plan his retaliation, while his opponents paid scant attention to their strategy for his political demise. As far as they were concerned, he was already dead and buried.

As an aside, both leaders of our major political parties, Bridges and Ardern, are complete muppets in their assessment of Donald Trump, who is arguably a brilliant strategist known for chopping his opponents off at the knees, especially those standing right next to him.  Neither of our political leaders understands the importance of strategic or succession planning, which is why both of them lurch along from one personnel crisis to the next.

But back to the matter at hand; several more political careers in the National party will end, either with a bang or a whimper from the back benches because, like it or not, the fight between Ross, Bridges and Bennett is a political fight to the death.

When Ross complained about being abandoned, Bridges allegedly threatened him with the insurance policy, telling Ross that complaints about his inappropriate behaviour would escalate from four to 15 women.

But Ross did not go quietly into that good night.  No sirree, instead he set about collating his own dossier of dirt, either for justice or revenge, but probably both.  Ross had little to lose, which put him in a stronger position than his opponents.

Like a Phoenix rising, or a woman scorned, hell hath no fury like that emitted from Jami-Lee Ross when he rose from the ashes of his personal political train wreck this week.

He emerged from his declared mental breakdown, (ahem) two weeks later, fighting fit and claiming a sound mental health assessment by the professionals.  The Nats’ attempt to paint Ross as mentally deranged blew up in their faces when the Mental Health Foundation, and the public, rushed to Ross’s defence by calling foul play on the Nats’ harsh treatment of his mental health.

Now the gloves are off and sordid details are flying around like nobody’s business. Ross is calmly dragging out the release of further damning audio recordings of his discussions with Bridges for the maximum effect of unsettling his prey. He is on the attack; he controls the play and his opponents are on the back foot.

It’s a media feeding frenzy. Voters are secretly having the most fun in a very long time because we love it when smarmy, ineffectual politicians get their comeuppance and this is a bonus ‘two for one’!

The cluster of shadow ministers surrounding Bridges each time he steps up to defend himself against Jami-Lee Ross poses the question: what will happen to them when Bridges goes down?

Do they go down with him, or will disgruntled voters acknowledge they were simply toeing the party line, with no choice but to defend their leader?

Unfortunately there are always choices and, in politics, it is one slip and you’re toast; so it’s a safe bet to stick with the party and they are indeed all staying put. For now, they are balanced on the loyalty seesaw. Eventually, when the promised dirt on Bridges surfaces, it will tip them over into ‘party loyalty at any price’ territory – a sure sign of weakness and not desired by any aspiring leader.

When Ross throws out more dirt how confident will Bridges’ ministers be about standing with him, given they could be signing their own political death warrants?

The public is abandoning Bridges at speed, leaving him and his ministers holed up between a rock and a hard place, all defence and no fight left in them.

But wait, help is coming!  (Sound of galloping horses approaching). Crikey, it is the National Party Caucus who have come to save face and save the party, by toppling Bridges and Bennett.

This is the only defence available to them.  Should they engage it sooner rather than later? Well, it might be okay for the fun to continue just a little bit longer, don’t you think?

As for Jami-Lee Ross, he is a dead man walking.


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The subject evoked in the collage is the debating of political issues with friends in a public place

Pablo Picasso
Glass and bottle of Suze (after 18 November 1912)
pasted paper, gouache and charcoal

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