Bridges misjudged Facebook, media and public lockdown sentiments

Yesterday morning I referred to a statement by Simon Bridges on the National Party website, also posted on Bridges’ Facebook page where  there were a lot of critical comments  – see Bridges mildly criticises Level 4 lockdown extension and other things.

Bridges seems to have badly misjudged public sentiment about the Level 4 lockdowm, it’s extension by a few days, and the lowering next week to level 3 that still largely restricts social movements in public, as well as businesses that involve social contact.

Through the day most media covered this.

Stuff: Simon Bridges receives huge backlash to Facebook post criticising lockdown extension

National leader Simon Bridges has defended himself after receiving an avalanche of negativity on a Facebook post criticising the Government’s Covid-19 response.

The post received over 24,000 comments, far more than the hundreds Bridges’ posts typically receive.

The tone of the comments seen by Stuff was overwhelmingly but not uniformly negative, with many people who described themselves as National voters saying they disagreed.

One comment with close to 6000 likes from Monique Wilson said “I did not Vote Labour but what I am proud of is the way Jacinda [Ardern] has lead us through this unprecedented time. Thank goodness Simon your not leading us through this because I’d put my hand on my heart and believe we would be in a worse situation.”

Another with close to 2000 likes from Debbie Kelliher said “Simon, I’m a national supporter but don’t support what you’ve just said at all.”

Over 7500 people gave an “angry” reaction to the post while 5700 did a “laughing” reaction – compared to 2800 likes.

Some comments were supportive, with Darren Mills writing he agreed with Bridges as “Not enough time spent on the economic side of this.”

Bridges defended himself when asked by media about the post today, saying the negativity was balanced out by the many supportive messages he received.

“There will be a bunch of different views, I know there are views online,” Bridges said.

NZ Herald: Simon Bridges’ Facebook post criticising lockdown extension slammed
Also via NewstalkZB: ‘Tone-deaf’: Bridges faces online fury over Facebook post

National Leader Simon Bridges has been forced to defend himself after facing a flurry of online fury over a social media post about the Government’s decision to extend the level 4 lockdown.

The Facebook post has attracted more than 16,000 reactions – many of them negative.

But speaking to media this afternoon, Bridges was quick to defend the post, saying there are “a bunch of different views” online.

When pressed on the negative reactions, he said people are entitled to have their own views.

Newshub: National supporters threaten to abandon Simon Bridges after Facebook post criticising COVID-19 lockdown extension

Opposition leader Simon Bridges is defending a Facebook post he published criticising the extended COVID-19 lockdown after it received a flood of negative comments from National supporters.

Newshub looked through the comments on Bridges’ Facebook post and found that people who appear to be legitimate National Party supporters are backing the Government en masse and its decision to extend the lockdown for a week.

Out of the 100 most recent comments on the post at the time of viewing it, Newshub found that four were in favour of the Opposition leader’s remarks while 96 were opposed.

“My National vote is quickly turning because of your attitude Simon Bridges. You are acting like a child,” a Christchurch man wrote in the comment section. “Your days are numbered as leader. Every time you open your mouth you are losing voters.”

An Auckland woman who works at a dental centre wrote: “I’m a National supporter but think the PM has made the right decision. I’m in a high risk industry that won’t be able to operate fully until we are in level 1.

Out of the 100 most recent comments on the post at the time of viewing it, Newshub found that four were in favour of the Opposition leader’s remarks while 96 were opposed.

“My National vote is quickly turning because of your attitude Simon Bridges. You are acting like a child,” a Christchurch man wrote in the comment section. “Your days are numbered as leader. Every time you open your mouth you are losing voters.”

An Auckland woman who works at a dental centre wrote: “I’m a National supporter but think the PM has made the right decision. I’m in a high risk industry that won’t be able to operate fully until we are in level 1.

Bridges said the negative views online are “more than matched by over 50,000 people who contacted me in relation to our quarantining petition” – an idea that was adopted by the Government.

“Of the many thousands who’ve emailed me as small business people, some of them bring me to tears the way they beg for help in this instance when they do feel like sacrificial lambs,” Bridges said.

The quarantine of people arriving in the country would have happened regardless of the petition, and that was a couple of weeks ago. This week Bridges appears to have badly misjudged public sentiment on the lockdown plans.

1 News:  Simon Bridges defends his stance on bringing alert level down sooner after being ‘obliterated’ online (video)

It’s never easy being Leader of the Opposition, but this is a big balls up if Bridges thought he would tap into popular support.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog: Simon Bridges horrifically misreads the mood of the Nation – he may as well urinate on an ANZAC grave


There is tone deaf and then there is Simon Bridges.

MickySavage at The Standard: When Bridges’ social media goes wrong

Simon Bridges’s Facebook post criticising the extension of lockdown level 4 has been met with overwhelming opposition, including from people who are clearly National Party supporters.

Left wing blogs would pile in against Bridges.

Maybe he should just try a guest post at Kiwiblog, but yesterday even there Bridges wasn’t exactly a raging success – see from here.

This comment has been a common claim against Bridges:

Bridges is when he complains, which is the job of opposition, it sounds like whining.

Another says:

Bridges is universally disliked across all media, he will never get any traction, they just don’t like who he is and what he stands for.

Apart from the nonsense of this, it wasn’t ‘the media’ that protested against Bridges on Facebook.

RNZ Power Play: A war footing from Ardern and misstep from Bridges

As the Opposition leader and chair of Parliament’s Epidemic Committee, National Party’s Simon Bridges has been their voice. Unfortunately for him, the current climate means many New Zealanders don’t want to hear direct criticism of the government as it offends that sense of patriotism.

He hit the wrong note in the early days of the Covid-19 crisis with a combative approach even many of his own MPs saw as tone deaf. Bridges has been at his best leading the committee, providing the de facto scrutiny of the debating chamber while Parliament is adjourned.

Shortly after the announcement of the extra week before moving to level 3, Bridges abandoned his constructive pose of recent weeks and accused the government of failing to do the groundwork on testing, contract tracing and making PPE properly available, forcing an extended and damaging lockdown.

Valid points, and ones National has persistently pursued in past weeks, but if the backlash on his own Facebook page was anything to go by, he misjudged the tone. He had risked becoming irrelevant as the government machine drove the response – Bridges has played a valuable role but his natural instinct to go on the attack has done him few favours once again.

Bridges (and presumably his advisers) is not good at judging public sentiment, and nor is he good at expressing his own sentiments.

This backlash against his critical post also suggests that the Government measures over lockdowns and protecting people from the Covid-19 virus have generally widespread public support.

And this should have been easy to read.

The Spinoff (8 April): Almost 90% of New Zealanders back Ardern government on Covid-19 – poll

The (Colmar Brunton )poll found that 83% of respondents have “trust in the government to deal successfully with national problems”, while 88% “trust the government to make the right decisions on Covid-19”.

NZ Herald (12 April) – Covid 19 coronavirus survey: Most New Zealanders willing to extend lockdown

Almost two-thirds of New Zealanders are willing to have the lockdown extended so Covid-19 can be eradicated, a new (Research New Zealand ) survey has found.

Stuff (18 April):  60 per cent of Stuff poll respondents want to stay in lockdown

Newshub (19 April) – Coronavirus poll results: Should New Zealand leave COVID-19 lockdown this week?

On Saturday, Newshub asked readers if they thought New Zealand should leave lockdown next week. Of the 44,768 responses, 28,716 voters – just over 64 percent – said no. The other 16,052 said yes. (The poll is not scientific and shouldn’t necessarily be considered an accurate reflection of the views of the wider New Zealand population).


Leave a comment


  1. Bridges is being interviewed on RNZ and is being questioned about this, and is trying to defend his post and claim he has some support.

    Susie mentions a National internal poll that she says has National on 31% – Bridges sort of said that wasn’t correct but sounded rattled and when asked if he had to confidence of his caucus – especially when asked if he had the confidence of Paul Goldsmith – bridges tailed off and sounded deflated.

  2. David

     /  22nd April 2020

    I would guess the bulk of people messing around on Facebook are not the people paying the wages rather they could possibly be the recipients who quite like the idea of another 5 days with their feet up.

    • duperez

       /  22nd April 2020

      You’re probably right. They are likely to be voters too.

    • Blazer

       /  22nd April 2020

      Do you ever get your hands dirty….David?

      • David

         /  22nd April 2020

        Yup, painted a 6 bedroom house during the lockdown, spent 2 days lifting the lino all ready for the trades to start next week with a new kitchen, bathroom, drive and flooring. Make a lovely home for a larger family and all nicely insulated with two heatpumps.
        Hopped on the pushbike and been there most days during lockdown, turns out I still hate hate painting.

        • I quite like painting. I did the back door frame (dingy white, now a sort of denim blue) and the door (red outside, dark green inside) as well as the front door (saffron yellow)

          Now I want to do the sittingroom but am less keen on moving the furniture.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd April 2020

    Bridges is tone deaf but the country also has an inordinate amount of frightened stupidity stoked by the media and exploited by some but maybe feared by the politicians.

    Bridges should stick to the facts he wants to highlight and not get trapped into the media game of intangibles about support.

  4. Reply
    • duperez

       /  22nd April 2020

      All fair and reasonable from Bennett. It’s a sort of context reminder, “C’mon people, there are real issues to think about.”

      Trouble is it’s politics and things just don’t work like that. Politics is where private information about people held by government makes it into politicians’ mouths and headlines. It’s where speculation is a fine sword, often used in your hand but unsporting when brandished by others.
      And it’s where from a perceived triumphal position people blurt out things like “Zip it sweetie.”

    • pythagoras

       /  22nd April 2020

      Susie should have gone easier on him, doesn’t she know the poor man is exhausted from all that driving between home and work?

  5. Blazer

     /  22nd April 2020

    the ‘medicine is worse than the…cure’!….onya Simon.

  6. lurcher1948

     /  22nd April 2020

    “Can’t believe a tweet from a known stirring leftie” Paula Bennett,so who is this leftwing stirrer the right are abusing, point me in the direction of the blog

  7. Stuff: Simon Bridges quashes claim of a National Party coup attempt

    The AM Show aired rumours that deputy leader Paula Bennett and MP Mark Mitchell were considering an attempt at toppling Bridges.

    Bridges, who has led National since February 2018, said such talk of a coup was not true, and had originated from a “left-wing blogger” – likely a reference to former NZ Herald columnist David Cormack, who has been talking up the rumour online.

    “The blessing of being an Opposition leader is to have these sort of stories from time to time … but just no,” he said.

    Stuff understands there was some disquiet within caucus over a wildly unpopular Facebook post from Bridges but has not spoken to any MPs plotting to topple Bridges.

    Talking up rumours of coups is a common tactic by political activists.

    So are denials of any problems.

  8. Blazer

     /  22nd April 2020

    The National Party is touted as a ‘magnet’ for talent…so they have many candidates to choose from…theres…um….and…err….

    *knock knock
    ~who’s there?
    ~Dr Who
    -Dr Jiang,National list M.P
    ~are you a Chinese spy?
    -No…but I’ve trained…a few!


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