National leadership speculation in full swing

There hasn’t been much change to the list of National leadership contenders – Jonathan Coleman has confirmed he won’t stand, Steven Joyce and mark Mitchell are reported to be interested but haven’t yet confirmed either way, so Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins remain the current confirmed contenders.

There’s a lot of pundit positing for various candidates, which is unlikely to influence the MPs in National’s caucus who will make the decision, so is more like attempts to be seen as able to guess who the winner will be before it is announced.

Bryce Edwards tweeted:

A notable omission from the endorsement list is himself, given his clearly stated preference:

I’m not going to endorse or pick any of them, I’m still quite ambivalent about who I’d like to see lead National, I don’t care very much who gets the job. But here’s some musings.

Amy Adams – seems to have been a very capable Minister who managed a large workload in the last Government. I’m not sure she has the media appeal that, unfortunately, seems to be demanded by media.

Simon Bridges – he is rated by some, and his relative youth may help against Ardern, but I haven’t seen he has what it needs yet. Perhaps he could rise to the position, but that is a risk.

Judith Collins – I really think she looks the best prepared and most capable of the bunch, and could be a very good contrast to Ardern, but she will need to get the support of the caucus, something she has failed to do in the past, and one of her biggest impediments is the rash of dirt mongering against her opponents and promotion of her at Whale Oil – the risk of her being connected to that, justified or not, may be causing some MPs some concern.

Should they stand:

Steven Joyce – in some ways he has been a very capable lieutenant to Key and English, has made misjudgements in the last two campaigns (Northland and general election). If National want to rejuvenate and set a new course into the political future Joyce is not the one, that will count against him unless National MPs think more of same old is what they want.

Mark Mitchell – seen as a dark horse candidate that few of the public will know. He has seemed ok to me in the little I have seen of him, but too little to judge. He would certainly be a breath of fresh leadership, and would contrast with Ardern, but will be hammered for his military contracting past, just like Key was hammered (to little effect) on his money market past.

Whoever takes over will have two years to build their profile and support before heading into the 2020 campaign – presuming the current lasts that long (the odds must be it will).

It’s worth keeping an eye on Kiwiblog. So far David Farrar has done individual posts on Collins and Mitchell. They could make a good looking leadership team, and Labour have shown that two geographically imbalanced (Auckland or north) leaders doesn’t seem to matter any more.

107 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  February 16, 2018

    Collins has a whale around her neck. You may like to claim their association is historic, but her opponents can call up the past in an instant. Dirty politics coming home to roost.

  2. Blazer

     /  February 16, 2018

    what chance the new improved Paula holding onto to…. no.2?

    • robertguyton

       /  February 16, 2018

      Zero. She has the “out-going” look about her. She failed to perform. Plus, her past is an opportunity to knee-cap her.

  3. PartisanZ

     /  February 16, 2018

    Leaving aside ‘realists’ Trotter and Stewart, the list of names supporting ‘Crusher’ tells a story plain and simple about where National is heading … a fucking horror story …

    Hosking, Slater and Brash …

    I’d say the only reason the first two aren’t card-carrying, cloak-and-hood-wearing members of Kiwi FrontLine is because publicly agreeing with ‘Maori genocide’ and ‘Daughter Slaughter’ might affect their incomes …

    • Gezza

       /  February 16, 2018

      It puzzles me why you continually advertise Kiwi FrontLine. I’d never even heard of it until you started banging on about it. I wouldn’t even mention it to anyone else. The last thing bigots need is more feeding.

      • PartisanZ

         /  February 16, 2018

        I’m secretly “one of them” promoting their cause Gezza …

        Are you saying something like, “Don’t go there. Don’t reveal this”? And if so, would you say the same about …

        It is ALWAYS better to know. I’m glad it makes you feel uncomfortable …

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I think it’s likely to send people to a site & have them start thinking they might agree with that stuff than it is to make them think that everything there suggests they’re all part of a right wing racist cabal.

          You’re positing that Hodking & Slater people agree with “Maori Genocide” and “Daughter Slaughter” claims made in obscure posts there. You have no idea whether that’s true. And you actually have to go looking for that stuff to find it.

    • Blazer

       /  February 16, 2018

      Mitchell is the perfect National canidate has all of the vices and none of the virtues…they admire.

  4. robertguyton

     /  February 16, 2018

    Which of them can land an appointment with Vogue magazine?
    “There’s also a certain amount of schadenfreude with regards to the right, who endorsed nine years of Smile and Wave PR as cover for plundering the country. They have no leg to stand on in criticising Ardern or Labour for the increasing likelihood of three terms from the whole photogenic baby thing. National made this culture of politics to suit their own ends, now they can get f***ed.”

    • Gezza

       /  February 16, 2018

      What’s the source for that quote Robert?

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          Not a bad effort by Weka. Makes some good points. Bit early to predict three terms for Jacinda – she has to deliver results for Maori & others in areas like employment, crime reduction, health improvements, skills training yet – but understandable that she wants to drag her further left.

          • Gezza

             /  February 16, 2018

            * Housing. That’s a biggie. They’ve bashed National for this so badly (rightly) that they HAVE to produce significant improvements in supply & social housing availability.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              No they don’t. They just have to make things so bad emigration leaves a stockpile of empty houses. Working on it now. Just a few more study groups to report.

            • Gezza

               /  February 16, 2018

              What countries are you looking at to up sticks & emigrate to, Sir Alan?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              Hunkering down and storing up dog biscuits, Sir Gerald.

  5. Patzcuaro

     /  February 16, 2018

    Just thought I would repost this from Feb 2nd. I think Barry Soper kicked it off, he must have a superior crystal ball or a good source.

    “Meaningless but mean leadership speculation
    Supposed issues over the leadership of Bill English was very suspiciously leaked on the day he was due to give a big ‘state of the nation speech’ earlier this week, and of course the media thrashed it.

    There were the inevitable denials, and inevitable media claims that denials mean the opposite.

    Leadership speculation is one of the great blood sports of politics – and is often dirty, whether orchestrated by people with their own leadership ambitions, or by opponents trying to create mischief.

    Bill English appears to be secure as National Party leader at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped the speculation and stoking of a what appears to have been a non-story.

    Every MP ‘absolutely stands behind the leader’ – until that leader’s position is in jeopardy. It is political suicide not absolutely appearing to stand by your leader.

    Political journalists love intrigue, especially over leadership, so are a major (and willing) part of the game.”

  6. High Flying Duck

     /  February 16, 2018

    I listened to Guyon Espiner’s interview Simon Bridges. It was a train wreck. That interview should put him out of the race, He was dreadful.
    ‘I am appealing’, ‘I am Maori’, ‘I can lead’, ‘I have positions’ (great positions, believe me…).
    It was all about him and he seems to think demographics will win him the race rather than any tangible vision or direction for the party.
    I had high hopes for Simon but he’s been a complete let down.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 16, 2018

      Maybe he can make deputy as a token identity politics attractor. Otherwise he will just be a place holder but support will erode. Strange though as other people have said in person he is quite impressive. The caucus will decide and they should know them all better than us.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 16, 2018

        I’ve heard the same thing. But then again many people said the same of Andrew Little. He was described as impressive one on one, but it translated very badly on a bigger stage.
        With Bridges it may just be that he’s not ready yet.

    • Gezza

       /  February 16, 2018

      😮 Ok, you’re not stupid so I’ve gotta hear or read this!

      • Gezza

         /  February 16, 2018

        Cheers HFD. Pretty vague (beige, in a blue suit?) Sounds like Collins & Adams have been interviewed on RNZ too. Will see if I can find & compare them.

      • Gezza

         /  February 16, 2018

        I’d pick Amy’s as the best pitch of those 3, HFD. But whether the older hands will back her is the question. All 3 are vague on policy direction. All intend policy review. Collins the most “attack dog” in her intended approach. Bridges the least clear. Adams the most “aspirational” & team-focussed. Articulate, a bit over-wordy. Fergusson rudely interrupted a couple of times.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  February 16, 2018

          Amy has impressed me so far. She speaks too quickly and is a little earnest for me, but I can see why you picked her as 1. Simon was a distant 3rd, and while I can see Judith rubs you up the wrong way a bit, I don’t mind that combative style – it is very handy in an opposition leader.
          Guyon is a fer better interviewer than Fergusson. I like his deadpan approach. He gives you nothing.

          • Gezza

             /  February 16, 2018

            I had the same reaction re Guyon. I’m impressed with him as an interviewer. Does a tradesman-like job on any politician. Very relaxed, personable style, clear questions, good with obfuscators or confusing interviewees. Skilled at focussing them (or catching them out) by changing the question. Thinks quickly & adapts.

    • PDB

       /  February 16, 2018

      Bridges never comes across well in public – I’m surprised anyone would think he is capable of winning anywhere enough votes to become PM. Has as much appeal as David Cunliffe did.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 16, 2018

        And Bridges hasn’t created Fonterra and invented the internet like Cunners did.

        • PDB

           /  February 16, 2018

          Has an ego as big as Cunliffe though…he probably though the ‘Me Too’ movement was about himself.

      • Zedd

         /  February 16, 2018

        @pdb

        must be a first; I agree.. 🙂

        • PDB

           /  February 16, 2018

          That is because I’m not a right-wing sycophant but you’re a left-wing one.

  7. David

     /  February 16, 2018

    At this stage I think Crusher is my pick, Adams is exceptionally bright and hard working, Bridges is clearly a talent but there is a something there its hard to back him.
    I think Crushers vocal supporters are her only problem but she or perhaps Joyce are the only 2 I can see who would take it to Labour and to Winston. I dont think there was any great movement for generational change in the results in the last election, if you look globally polls and populism is favoring older candidates.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  February 16, 2018

      I have to agree. Adam’s has been slightly better than I thought she would be to date, but Judith Collins has a clarity and focus that is compelling. I think she can get over the WO and Oravida issues, but overcoming the front bench who dislike her may be more problematic.
      Joyce can be smarmy, but he is a fast thinker and speaks very well also. I read the other day that he is hampered by the baggage of being the party enforcer under Key. He stepped on a lot of toes and would struggle to lower himself to begging colleagues for the votes. The race would get interesting if he joined.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 16, 2018

        I don’t think WO/Oravida are significant obstacles for Collins but she seems to have a tin ear when it comes to reading public reaction to me. Mind you so did Muldoon but he won anyway for a while. She’s obviously been internally divisive as well so it will be a question of whether her gang is bigger than her enemies.

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          She was given a 3 second comment on 1ewes last nite on abortion law reform – main point of which is to move it into the crimes act. Put on the famous stony face, said it’s working fine, no change needed. Came across as authoritarian. Not much to go on, but If that’s to be her style don’t think that is a winning approach for the next election.

      • robertguyton

         /  February 16, 2018

        “I think she can get over the WO and Oravida issues”
        How? She’s seriously compromised by both and other issues.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 16, 2018

          Only the loony Left are going to be impressed by those talking points, Robert, and they are irrelevant to her support.

          • robertguyton

             /  February 16, 2018

            The “loony Left”? How casually (and frequently) you slight many of your fellow New Zealanders, Alan. Those “talking points” are around serious issues that will dog Collins forever; she’ll be challenged on them over and over, should she win the Top Dog Nat role.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              Just your Lefty echo chamber, Robert. The public will quickly tire of that stuff and focus on what she is actually doing.

              As for slighting fellow New Zealanders, I’ve told you before the world is full of idiots and I do my best to avoid dealing with them. There are plenty of good people instead fortunately though not always quite enough to outvote the idiots.

            • Blazer

               /  February 16, 2018

              @AL…’It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own. ‘….Cicero.

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              Congrats Blazer! Your post is a real contender for ‘hypocrite of the week’!

              Robert will be jealous.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 16, 2018

              Oooh, Balzer! Like a stiletto blade slipped quietly between the ribs. PDM is right in recognising your talent. I won’t give up though; too much opportunity at this juncture; a Natty leadership stoush! Wahoo!

            • robertguyton

               /  February 16, 2018

              Balzer! Good one!

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              You have put the ‘balls’ into blazer…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              @B: “There is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not already said it” – Cicero

              Keep quoting.

            • Blazer

               /  February 16, 2018

              ‘The world is full of fools, and he who would not see it should live alone and smash his mirror. ‘

              Claude Le Petit

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              As above.

            • Blazer

               /  February 16, 2018

              you humourless as well as…mirrorless….Al….Bol.

        • Gerrit

           /  February 16, 2018

          Public got over Ardern’s “comrade” speech. Public will get over any skeletons in a National leaders closet.

      • Gerrit

         /  February 16, 2018

        It is not a popularity contest. The National caucus will vote who they think will take the fight to Ardern/Peters/Shaw and ensure a tight election in 2020 (or earlier).

        Muldoon never won a popularity or beloved leader contest in the National caucus but was voted in because of his work. Same with the new National leader. Will be voted in for the work they will do to get the National caucus onto the treasury benches.

        I think we need to differentiate between a popular leader versus one has the best ability.

        I expect that will be Collins but she will be changed out prior to 2020. The way Peters health looks expect hinm not to last and as such trouble in the government may not be far away. For without Peters how stable is the NZFirst caucus? Meaning Collins could well be fighting an election earlier than 2020.

        I think national need a female leader to go head to head with Ardern.

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          Worth thinking about, this. Good opinion.

        • Blazer

           /  February 16, 2018

          you are way behind the times.It is a popularity contest…with the public,at least.Clark was not countered by another woman.National need someone with public appeal….of the known candidates …none have any…X factor.

          • Gerrit

             /  February 16, 2018

            Strange we now have a popularity contest in the vein of popularity TV shows such as “Britain Got Talent” or the “X Factor”.

            I prefer my politicians in the mold of Clark or Muldoon. I put Collins in that camp.

            I put Ardern firmly in the Key camp of trying to be “popular” by association without actually doing any hard yards.

            Maybe a new reality show “Who wants to be the Prime Minister” The public can vote for their favourite dancer (Act), cover girl (Labour), mum with the best baby (Labour), biggest growl (NZFirst), best fisher woman (National), etc.,etc..

            I prefer a politician with ability to look after the affairs of the country, not voted the “Most Promising To Succeed” or Princess/Prince of the school ball.

            • Blazer

               /  February 16, 2018

              what you prefer is irrelevant.Key won 3 times,and unless National produce someone with popular appeal,so will…Ardern

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              Collins is worth a punt – give her a year and a half and see what happens. Key floating voters are a fickle bunch and economic conditions could change for the worse meaning Ardern actually has to earn her keep. Stronger leadership & directness could be more valued in such a situation & we know Labour will attempt to put through some form of unpopular land tax and/or CGT at the next election so may drop support regardless.

              NZL First is also toast next election as their trick of not declaring before the election if they will go with Labour or National is now at an end.

            • Gerrit

               /  February 16, 2018

              Blazer, Cant reply to your comment below as the reply button is not there so will answer it here.

              Do you think a woefully poor opposition, with enough leadership changes to confuse the elector, enabled National to govern for 9 years?

              There was no alternative to vote for except Key. If Ardern had been ready 6 years earlier it may have been a different matter.

              However to read that one must be “popular” like Key and Ardern to win the election shows that it is no longer substance that leads the country but a smile and a wave.

              If you think a smile and a wave will keep Ardern in power for nine years against a better led oppostion, maybe the country is already on the slippery slope.

              The other factor that Ardern has to combat that Key did not is a weakening Peters and an NZFirst caucus only held together by him.

              That could change in an instant. Key always had ACT and the Maori party firmly alongside him.

              Labour too needs to be mindful of it’s Maori Caucus. This Charter School business is divisive. Jackson and Davis are swallowing some big rats.

              Is a new Maori breakaway party on the cards like when Labour was in charge last time?

            • Blazer

               /  February 16, 2018

              Key polled very high for years,his act as a good kiwi bloke, who came from a statehouse went down well .Couple that with a quite buoyant economy and a lack lustre opposition and he made every post a..winner.Economic downturn is the rights best chance.The public quite erroneously attribute sound economic management to…National.

          • Gezza

             /  February 16, 2018

            It depends how strategically National are thinking. Right now they might want to for an effective attack strategy & roll out an Ardern clone with a younger, softer, inclusive right-aligned aspirational focus before a 2020 election?

            A difficulty with this approach if they picked Collins would be when they tried to roll her. That could be very bloody. Can’t see her giving it up without an all-out battle.

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              Collins isn’t the first choice of many of the current movers and shakers in National so if she did get the leadership on the back of backbench support I’d imagine rolling her wouldn’t be too difficult if their polls went down considerably.

      • 2Tru

         /  February 16, 2018

        Unfortunately I’m not really over impressed with any of the three candidates or any of the others thinking about it. But if Amy can tone down her verbage (is that a word?) and speak slower she could be a good leader. I think she shows more chance of being inclusive, which was a previous demand of caucus. Judith would certainly hold the govt to account but I don’t sense any inclusivity. Simon, perhaps deputy?

        • PDB

           /  February 16, 2018

          Collins & Bridges are too alike in terms of being somewhat ‘direct’ & both from the right of the National party to be a good leader/deputy option.

          • PDB

             /  February 16, 2018

            Sorry just read it another way…you proposing a Adams/Bridges combo? Possibly the only working partnership of the people who have put their hands up to be leader but lacks a totally fresh face.

    • PDB

       /  February 16, 2018

      Best of a fairly average bunch is Collins with Mitchell as her deputy to offset her in terms of temperament & freshness. Give it a go and if it doesn’t work flick her a year out from the election and by then maybe Mitchell shows enough (and has gained more of a profile) to take over for the election.

      Bridges is more of a loose attack dog in the Mallard mould who has his uses behind the scenes rather than out front where he comes across as an unappealing, angry version of John Key.

      Adams comes across as an Ardern clone but without the public appeal. Hardly a reason for the public to swing in behind her if its just a straight choice between one wet liberal and another wet liberal.

      • Blazer

         /  February 16, 2018

        Collins/Mitchell…which one will play the…’good cop’?

      • robertguyton

         /  February 16, 2018

        It’s all sounding rather miserable for the Right. After the euphoria of Key, this must be depressing.

        • robertguyton

           /  February 16, 2018

          In any case, it’s Slater who will sink her. She’s draped in his murk and that impression went public long ago and can be stirred up again in a trice.

          • Gerrit

             /  February 16, 2018

            You are empowering Slater with more influence than he has.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 16, 2018

              I don’t believe he has any at all. I’m saying the public see him, and Collins by association, as very mucky. She won’t be able to shake that off, especially if much is made of it, reminding the public of that past association – great mates they were, all cock-a-hoop!

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              I think you put too much into the Slater thing, no doubt caught up in a far-left wing bubble – after all the book ‘Dirty Politics’ actually IMPROVED National’s polls as the bulk of the general public saw through Hager’s election hit-job.

            • robertguyton

               /  February 16, 2018

              But the public remember the grotty stuff and Slater/Collins = full grot.

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              Prior to the Hager book those who followed Slater knew he was toxic, after the book a whole lot of other people found out but were still no more interested in the guy. Collins was officially cleared of any wrongdoing over Dirty Politics and most people have moved on except for far left-wing tragics.

              Liberals generally hate strong-willed right-wing women (as they do right-wing gays) as that challenges their belief system as to who these particular demographics should support & what they should say – so nothing new there.

            • “Collins was officially cleared of any wrongdoing over Dirty Politics”
              Hold that belief, PDM, like a tiny flower; clutch it to your bosom like a teddy bear, roll around on it like it’s catmint – in Neverland, fairies are REAL!

            • PDB

               /  February 16, 2018

              Do you have some alternative facts you wish to table?

        • Gerrit

           /  February 16, 2018

          Not at all depressing, loving the thought of an invigorated new National party taking the fight to NZFirst/Labour/Greens.

          How long will Peters last? Will NZFirst caucus remain loyal after Peters departs due to ill health?

          • robertguyton

             /  February 16, 2018

            “Invigorated” ?
            “New”?
            Judith Collins ?
            Gerrit! You’re more badly affected than I first thought! 🙂

            • Gerrit

               /  February 16, 2018

              Thanks for your concern. Seeing Collins has not been party leader, naturally it is new. She can choose her front bench, she can choose the issues to debate, she can choose strategy for combat, she can empower the new team. Totally invigorating.

              Sounds like you are worried? Lost the power of your conviction?

            • robertguyton

               /  February 16, 2018

              I sound worried?
              Curious.
              Nope, Jacinda’s “match” hasn’t appeared yet and perhaps never will. All of the cards have fallen her way. It’d take a miracle.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 16, 2018

              Since she is pregnant I presumed she had already met her match?

  8. Zedd

     /  February 16, 2018

    Judith sounds the ‘top dog’ so far.. BUT as I said before, the next ‘leader OR three’ could be in a caretaker role (as with Labour, post Helen) until a ‘fresh face’ is found to actually be a real contender 😀

    • duperez

       /  February 16, 2018

      Is that fair? I mean saying that Judith sounds the ‘top dog’ so far. I hope you’re not floating notions around female dogs.😉

      • Zedd

         /  February 16, 2018

        @dupz

        I just meant she is likely ahead of the rest of ‘the pack’..
        I have never been now, nor likely will ever be a ‘Natl supporter’ BUT Ms Collins is one of their few MPs I do have some respect for; She is a straight-shooter/no nonsense

    • robertguyton

       /  February 16, 2018

      “Fresh face” – that was Todd Barclay, groomed for the role but sadly, lost face, did an about-face, refused to face the music and isn’t likely to surface again on these shores for a very long time.

      • Gerrit

         /  February 16, 2018

        Bit like the Green’s Metiria Turei? Or Labour’s Darren Hughes?

  9. Richard

     /  February 16, 2018

    Collins easy

  10. High Flying Duck

     /  February 16, 2018

    Can’t post the actual graph, but this Tauranga newspaper poll is interesting…
    It doesn’t give the voting numbers though.

    https://www.sunlive.co.nz/pollresults.html

    • Gezza

       /  February 16, 2018

      Simon Bridges
      19%
      Judith Collins
      41%
      Amy Adams
      18%
      Steven Joyce
      9%
      Todd Muller
      14%

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 16, 2018

        One caveat – I saw this in a post on WO, and thinking about it, he may have his bots out to distort the poll and create news before posting on it. If true, it isn’t a good look in Simon’s home electorate, but newspaper polls are ropey, and this one may be manipulated.

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          It in no way represents the National caucus either. They’ll be making their own assessment of who will be the best team leader as well as Chief government Opponent.

        • Gezza

           /  February 16, 2018

          I wonder if any of them go so far as to promise spokesperson roles?

          • Blazer

             /  February 16, 2018

            hell yeah..thats the horse trading background…

          • Gezza

             /  February 16, 2018

            You’re right, of course. Dunno where my head was at with that one. I blame Aspen. I’ve managed to chase all the other pooks back into the stream, but this little guy wants me to be his dad & he just keeps hopping back over the fence & loudly asking where I am every 30 minutes!

          • High Flying Duck

             /  February 16, 2018

            I’m sure there are many promises being made.

            I keep hearing about Mark Mitchell. His looks like a good story, but I have seen so little of him it’s hard to gauge his ability to lead.

            In a perfect world Judith would be an excellent deputy leader. Deputies tend to be the ones who do the attacking leaving the leader to look as if they are above it all.

            And to show she has a softer side:

  11. Pickled Possum

     /  February 16, 2018

    Crusha and her crusha team Will crush you till you bleed, till there’s no more Gum left.

  12. PartisanZ

     /  February 16, 2018

    I kinda hope its Crusher + Mitchell … This will polarize the Party and lose National much more ground in the Centre than they’ll ever gain out on the Right …. It’ll be an own-goal.

    Crusher + Bridges will simply polarize their leadership with similar loss of popularity for slightly different reasons … Bridges ain’t gonna look good playing second fiddle … and he ain’t gonna play it well neither … alienating moderate male supporters of whom National has plenty they can’t afford to lose …

    Short of a Foreshore & Seabed-type issue Labour-led will govern for 6 years and maybe 9 …