Simon Bridges – from back seat to boot

Simon Bridges took a back seat to Jacinda Ardern and politics last month. He had no choice with the Christchurch shootings dominating the news.

Since then thinsghaven’t improved. If anything he has slipped back to the boot, which is what he may get from the National Party leadership if he doesn’t find another formula, fast.

Audrey Young: Another lopsided week for Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges

Comparing Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges this week has been even more asymmetrical than usual.

Bridges’ support within his own caucus seems to be shrinking at the same rate as Ardern’s reputation is growing internationally.

Ardern also took the highly unusual step of leading the third reading debate on the bill to rid New Zealand of the most dangerous of firearms. It was more material for her growing international audience.

And she made a big deal of the bipartisan support from National in her speech.

While National’s young Chris Bishop did a valiant job in being first up to respond on behalf of his party, as parliamentary symbolism went it was highly asymmetrical.

Bridges was missing in action. He was not prepared for the debate because he did not know about it enough in advance.

It certainly would have been a more sincere bipartisan exercise by the Government if it had given National notice of Ardern’s intention to lead the debate. It was petty not to do so.

Ardern’s growing stature would hardly be dimmed, nor Bridges’ inflated by giving him sufficient opportunity to prepare for it.

But the gun debate was the least of Bridges’ problems this week.

Bridges also found himself the subject to a fresh of attacks from ex-colleague Jami-lee Ross.

The internal employment dispute is more problematic than Jami-lee Ross. Ross has done his worst and his allegations about donations are now in the hands of the Serious Fraud Office.

This an ongoing rather than a new problem. Bridges’ management of the whole Ross debacle has not been flash, but Ross has made it very difficult for Bridges.

Not so the ’emotional junior staffer’ fiasco, which is a self inflicted disaster.

The employment dispute with press secretary Brian Anderton, however, is seen by many National MPs as having been mismanaged by Bridges and his closest advisers.

The changing answers from National about why its petition against the UN Migration Pact was taken down after the mosque attacks have been widely construed as lies rather than misunderstandings.

There has been little attempt by those in the thick of it to set the record straight. The vacuum has been replaced by accusation and speculation likely to be much worse than the reality.

Bridges’ description of Anderton as an emotional junior staffer has been seen as pejorative, even though it was strictly true that he did not have the seniority to take down the petition on the night of the killings – when the whole country was in a deeply emotional state.

Essentially, Bridges is getting a reputation as a leader who compounds problems when he steps in, rather than clearing them up, and of attracting people with similar traits.

The dispute with Anderton is similar to the Maureen Pugh issue. In the eyes of the caucus, the slagging off of a colleague (revealed in secretly recorded tapes by Jami-lee Ross) as useless was unforgivable disloyalty.

Many MPs believe Bridges has not shown Anderton the loyalty that should be accorded to long-serving staff members who make an error.

It is his dealing on smaller personal issues such as Pugh and Anderton that have given Bridges’ colleagues reason to question his judgment.

Loyalty is a two way thing in life and in politics. Bridges burning loyalty has become a recurring problem.

The so-called inquiry into National’s culture ordered in the aftermath of the Jami-lee Ross saga appears to lacked rigour. No one knows who did it, no one can find anyone who was spoken to for it, Bridges says it is a party matter, and the party says it will wait until the Debbie Francis review into bullying at Parliament before it issues any comment on its own review.

A number of female National MPs were asked about about this inquiry and remarkably said they had taken no part in it.

It’s difficult turning a perception of ineptness around.

Bridges has regressed from back seat to boot this month. Next may be the trailer, and not just in the polls.


Leave a comment


  1. lurcher1948

     /  13th April 2019

    Having a good education doesn’t give you any smarts as a politician or future leader as at times Bridges comes over as a rather thick Mr Plod, and to cap it off he was on the radio yesterday telling the police not to overreact over ANZAC parades and you couldn’t understand his croaky,thick-accented voice. When a politician speaks you shouldn’t have to think(what did he say)….he’s gone by Christmas.

    • Corky

       /  13th April 2019

      He’s a liability, Lurchy. National will have to clean shop soon. Won’t make much difference though, will it? Now if they lower the MMP threshold allowing minor parties to get into parliament..oh boy, things will change.

      Talking of the police, they have been caught out lying by the RSA. The RSA was told what services would and wouldn’t be allowed. The reasons for that is police, like the rest of the country, have been ill prepared for a terrorist attack and now are in knee-jerk overreaction mode. I don’t know why…all they had to do was look at Europe and extrapolate.

      Yep, a police state here we come. Next thing you know… they will be coming for RED.

      • Gezza

         /  13th April 2019

        After thinking about it, I’ve given you an uptick for the chuckle you gave me that last line. Cherish it, Corks. You don’t score many from me.

        RED’s got no worries. Take RED off my down road neighbour, Lurchy? They don’t have APCs or tanks. They wouldn’t DARE !

        • Corky

           /  13th April 2019

          So, if it’s not you upticking me..where do all these ticks for me come from? I don’t like upticks. I have a reputation as being unpopular to protect.

          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            I don’t know, Corks. I wish I could help you more. All I can suggest is that some people who know you well by now & don’t like you are deliberately giving you upticks to make you feel bad?

            • Corky

               /  13th April 2019

              Yes, that’s better. I knew there had to be a good reason.

    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2019

      he’s gone by Christmas.


      Please don’t say that, neighbour. I’ve got a $2 bag of jet plane lollies riding on him being gone by 30 June !

  2. Duker

     /  13th April 2019

    Seems like the ‘triumvirate ‘ of Bridges-Bennett-Jami Gray isnt working. Gray is out of the public eye but has enormous influence
    Doesnt sound like all is well in the back office as well
    The circumstances seem to be minor , but how do so called talented people get themselves into a storm in a teacup

    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2019

      My personal view is that doing precisly that IS one of their innate talents, Duker.

  3. Blazer

     /  13th April 2019

    ‘walking vigorously’!!🐱‍🏍


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