It’s barbeque season

Tracy Watkins writes a considered piece on Simon Bridges and whether he can lead the National party to election victory in 2020.  Quote:

[…] After an extraordinary, and turbulent, few months there are more brutal calculations to be made – such as whether Simon Bridges can carry them back into power. And if the answer is no – which seems to be the growing consensus – can anyone else do better.

This is what Bridges’ MPs will be weighing up between now and February.[…]

[…] While polls are thin on the ground these days, Bridges seems to be rating even worse than Little, Phil Goff or David Shearer did  – presumably all useful benchmarks for judging the right time to mount a leadership coup.[…]

Can Bridges turn things around?

Everyone knows being Opposition leader is the worst job in politics. And leading the Opposition off the back of nine years in power is a suicide mission.

But Bridges’ first months in the job were marked by a remarkable confidence that this time was different. National were acting like the All Black team that scored the most tries but lost to a rival who won on penalties thanks to bad refereeing.

But lately reality seems to be settling in and Bridges is acting like a cornered man. The drawbridges are up and he is blaming some of the media for his negative image. The “soft” media seems to have gone, in place of an angrier and harder edge.

Some of this may also be strategic. Creating a mood for change in just three years is a big ask.

But National will see a window to rock confidence in Ardern and her Government in that period by being hugely disruptive, and playing to the politics of anger and conflict rather than aspiration.  End of quote.

Well, it’s not like there is a shortage of material.  The government has barely swept one disaster under the mat before another cluster appears.  Labour youth camp scandal, Curran re Carol Hirschfeld, Curran re Handley, Meka Whaitiri, Twyford and Kiwibuild, Lees-Galloway and Sroubek.  Quote:

Why roll Bridges when National is still polling around the same as Labour?

[..] The anonymous white-anting of Bridges by someone who claims to be an MP is a sign that there are those within the caucus who are impatient for the debate over National’s heart and soul to begin.[…]  End of quote.

It’s fair to say that there is a chunk of voters looking for National to find its heart and soul further to the right.  Quote.

[…] Meanwhile, there are other worries. Key may have gifted National many things,  but a coalition ally was not one of them.

Can Bridges do a deal with NZ First or, for that matter, the Greens? On current evidence, neither.

His strategy appears to be the same as the strategy National employed at the last election. Kill them both.  End of quote.

Except that strategy blew up spectacularly.  Why would it be any different next time?  Quote:

Will rolling Bridges play badly with voters?

[…] there is no right answer to that question.

If they roll him, when? 

It’s probably too late in the year to move against Bridges now (though never say never). So if National is serious about change, it will probably move early next year, once its MPs have taken soundings  from their local electorate members and the barbecue-and-beers set.

If not Bridges, who?

Judith Collins is nudging Bridges in the preferred prime minister stakes. That’s usually the death knell.

Collins is polarising and you could count the number of votes she got in the last leadership contest on one hand.

But those poll numbers will be compelling to the caucus. And Collins has done a lot to rehabilitate herself with her colleagues. There is said to be growing momentum behind her.[…]

Will National do it?

When Bridges became leader it was assumed the chances of his making it to the election were slim. It’s the way the cycle works. But those chances are getting slimmer all the time.  End of quote.

Which speaks volumes, given the string of incompetence we have seen from the current government.

Bring on the summer barbeques.

 


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