Simon Bridges, new National Party leader and LOTO

Simon Bridges is replacing Bill English as National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition (some media and politicians say that is the hardest job in politics but I call bull on that, PM, Ministers of Finance, Health, Social Welfare, Corrections all have far more difficult jobs).

Just two ballots were required. That suggests that Bridges was close to having the numbers in the first vote, and picked up enough after the least supported candidate dropped out to get a majority on the second vote.

Paula Bennett was chosen to stay as deputy leader – not a big deal position unless the leader quits just before an election.

I wasn’t a fan of either Bridges or Bennett, but that’s who the national caucus have chosen, so I’ll give them a chance to see if the step up, especially Bridges, who has a couple of years to make a mark before the 2020 election campaign.

This puts a very different look on the National Party after the John Key/Bill English era which began when Key rose to the top of the party in 2006, just over 11 years ago.

One think I will give the National caucus credit for is their willingness to try a quite different looking ‘new generation’ leadership. They haven’t fallen into the trap Labour made falling back on an uninspiring ‘same old’ Phil Goff replacement for Helen Clark (and followed that with three more unimpressive middle aged males, Shearer, Cunliffe and Little).

Bridges fronted up ok yesterday after taking over the leadership, he looked much better dealing with PR and media than he did when he started his leadership bid, and he did a good job in his first sting in Parliament as LOTO – see Simon Bridges versus Jacinda Ardern: round 1.

Now Bridges needs to get up to speed with broad issue and policy knowledge, he needs to earn the confidence of his caucus, and he needs to hope that National won’t dip in the polls too much while he finds his feet and becomes known to the general public.

This will take time and effort, and perhaps a bit of luck.

Bridges needs to be visible holding the Government to account without overplaying his hand, opposition politicians often have difficult avoiding barking dog/passing car syndrome.

He also needs to be smart in picking policy battles – his main aim will to be to appeal to the large centre, and to not bother to much about the griping from the right fringes and the perpetually dissatisfied.

The single most important piece of advice I would give Bridges (or any political leader) is to be himself, back his intellect and knowledge and sound like his brain and his mouth are connected.

Many leaders fall into a trap of sounding like their ears and mouths are connected with little input from their own thoughts. They get pushed into poliparrot palaver by PR coaches, and the resulting bland recitals probably turn more voters off than anything in politics.

Bridges needs to be himself, good attributes and  warts and all, and sell his abilities to the country, because that’s what most voters want to see from a leader.

It will take a few months to see how well Bridges steps up, and what the polls decide about this National Party change of leadership and change of guard.

As with any new leader I’m prepared to cut them some slack and give them a fair go.

Leave a comment


  1. sorethumb

     /  February 28, 2018

    New Captain same direction. Corporate NZ demands migrants to buy houses National opens the spigot.

  2. Blazer

     /  February 28, 2018

    replacing slomo Simon English,with slippery Simon Bridges…and Bennett as deputy…good luck with the..B Team.They’ll need it…Jacinda’s star shines brighter by

  3. Gezza

     /  February 28, 2018

    I’m going to be interested to see if his awful aussie-sounding accent starts to become something that actually endears him to the public as toime goes on. We have two young yuppie leaders with awful accents. Bud it’s sumpthink I’m gedding yoose to & oi’m actually starting to quite loike lissning to them.

    • Blazer

       /  February 28, 2018

      the accent is actually not a big deal,this is Nuziland after all.He needs to stop trying to be mini me Key,and now he has the opportunity.Quite impressed with his academic …credentials.

      • Gezza

         /  February 28, 2018

        I wonder whether his crown prosecutor experienc will be put to good use at Question Time. In his first head-to-head with Ardern yesterday he came off well. His pitch for the Maori vote seemed really incongruous & it’ll be interesting to see if that was a oncer or whether he’ll keep bringing that up.

        He’s got the media’s attention right now. Let’s see if he can keep it.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  February 28, 2018

          I hope he gets some media training. The raw material of a good leader is definitely there. But describing himself in the third person needs to stop and his habit of almost distancing himself form what he is trying to get across – it isn’t “The National Party believes…” it is “The National Party that I lead believes…”.
          That said, his first presser was pretty good and his performance in the house positive.

          • Gezza

             /  February 28, 2018

            “it isn’t “The National Party believes…” it is “The National Party that I lead believes…”.

            Actually I diagree. That “party that I lead” line is boring, redundant, makes the sound both arrogant & insecure – & and is forever associated in my mind now with the hapless Andrew Little.

            Oh yes, he’ll be getting media training – he might be monotonic but needs to not just drone on & sound boring. I’m thinking he’ll be good actually.

  4. robertguyton

     /  February 28, 2018

    “As with any new leader I’m prepared to cut them some slack and give them a fair go.”
    Very gracious of you, Pete.

  1. Simon Bridges, new National Party leader and LOTO — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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