Pressure mounts on leadership of Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges has struggled to get things right as National leader and as a result has struggled to make a mark in ‘preferred Prime Minister polls. And despite some fairly mild criticism last week of Government actions in dealing with Covid-19, Bridges was hammered in social media and media.

His hold on the leadership was questioned – Richard Harman (Politik) last Thursday: Those who could depose Bridges

There are many rumours but few tangible signs that anybody in National is about to try and depose Leader, Simon Bridges.

The problem is not so much whether he should go but rather when and who should replace him.

POLITIK is aware of other MPs who have been told not to respond to media inquiries and not to issue press releases The impression is of a very strong centralisation of control within the party.

There are also concerns that Bridges’ list of close advisors leaves out some of the party’s better brains like Gerry Brownlee, Nikki Kaye, Judith Collins and Todd Muller.

Last Friday on RNZ Simon Bridges’ leadership questioned after missteps

The phones are running hot in the National Party caucus as MPs frantically try to figure out whether to replace Simon Bridges as leader after this week’s massive backlash.

MPs spoken to by RNZ were both dismayed and alarmed by the tsunami of negative public reaction.

That’s catapulted him into a place where once again his leadership is under threat. We’ve seen this before though; he’s seen off challenges in the toughest of times and will fight hard to do so again.

John Armstrong (1 News): Simon Bridges has to go, but is there another leader in National’s ranks?

Simon Bridges has to go. The moment has surely arrived to call time on his leadership of the National Party.

But will he go? And will he do so willingly? If not willingly, is there anyone in National’s parliamentary ranks in possession of both the qualities and qualifications required of a leader? Who in addition has the gumption to force the issue and the guts to do battle with the incumbent?

The answer to that latter question has to be an emphatic and unqualified “no”. Were there an MP in National’s caucus who fitted that bill, Bridges would have been looking for a career switch many months ago.

This is a problem for any Opposition Party with a malfunctioning leadership and a very popular Prime Minister – finding someone capable of stepping up, and finding someone willing to try when a loss this election looks quite likely.

Caucus dissatisfaction when public last night via Newshub: Senior National MP Nick Smith lashes Simon Bridges’ decision-making in a caucus-wide letter

Newshub has learned that one of his veteran MPs Nick Smith, an MP for 24 years, has written a letter to Bridges and copied in his entire caucus.

The letter expresses disappointment – or as one of his colleagues put it to Newshub, “he’s pretty pissed” – about Bridges setting up a new COVID-19 policy team.

When contacted about the letter, Smith wouldn’t discuss any private communications but said there was no offer of resignation. Several other National MPs have also leaked details to Newshub about the letter.

All of this has played out on the eve of a National Party caucus meeting on Tuesday where Bridges’ leadership and some of his COVID-related judgement calls are expected to come up.

The only thing that may save Bridges – for now- is a lack of takers for the top job at a time that would make any traction very difficult.

It looks unlikely Bridges will lift himself or the party, but he may be left as a fall guy for this year’s election. However that’s a big political risk, as it could lead to the decimation or worse of the National caucus.

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37 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th April 2020

    Worse, his failures have allowed our hapless Government to blunder panic-stricken into an economic catastrophe.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  28th April 2020

      Every other country has done lockdown to various levels except Sweden who already had high unemployment.
      Voters will blame the virus just as back in 2011 they blamed the GFC not the National government

      Reply
      • “just as back in 2011 they blamed the GFC not the National government”

        Funny. So National caused the Global Financial Crisis, and also the recession in New Zealand, before they even got into Government. I didn’t realise Key was that powerful in Opposition.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  28th April 2020

          I didnt say they should have blamed National, but the high unemployment etc at 2011 was seen as a result of the GFC…a global event.
          Where do I even suggest the GFC was caused by National….thats a huge leap of fantasy. Notice the phrase ‘Not national’ as a clue

          However before GFChappened Key said we should borrow more and be like that Celtic Tiger Ireland…. we could have been in a far worse state. That didnt happen , but it ‘could’

          Reply
  2. Barbara McKenzie

     /  28th April 2020

    Bridges is Labour Light – supports the governments most disastrous policies, from Zero Carbon, to replacing farming with forestry (including incentives to overseas owners to do this) to wrecking the country’s economy, health system, and countless lives, especially those of older people, firm or infirm, on the back of a cold virus. Judith Collins has at least questioned some of these policies.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  28th April 2020

      You forgot the education system, they wrecked that too didn’t they?

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  28th April 2020

      Back again Barbara with your crazy far right rantings …cold virus indeed.

      Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  28th April 2020

    Simon Bridges doesn’t seem capable of developing any policy of his own or articulating any underpinning political philosphy.

    If you had to define the leaders of the parties in a word or a phrase, my bet is most people would say:
    Jacinda – “kindness”
    Simon – “Umm … law and order?” Which isn’t as novel or as memorable a concept as Jacinda’s & doesn’t resonate as well, especially as crime rates seem to be down under the lockdown rules that apply to everyone but certain folk who set up roadblock/checkpoints.

    Reply
    • Kindness; leaving old people to fend for themselves, not letting the mother of a young man dying of melanoma see him before and after he died. wrecking the economy and making thousands unemployed ???

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  28th April 2020

        Yeah, but who was it who first famously said:
        “Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind” ?

        I got a phone call from an elderly neighbour asking if I could come to her place urgently as all her lounge lights had blown out & she didn’t know what to do. I started explaining where her fuse box is & that all she’ll need to do is flip up the switch that’s down, but she sounded panicky so I told her look don’t worry S I’ll come over right now; it’s not a problem.

        She opened the garage door for me & the fusebox door was already open, so I flicked the tripped switch back up to ON for her. She has a 5 bulb chandellier type light in her dining room & 3 of the bulbs had blown. One of the bulbs was 40w, the next tonit was 100w !

        Her son lives in Welly so she phoned him & I asked him to pick her up 3 standard 40w bulbs & put them in for her on his next visit. He said she’s not in his bubble, but he could get them & drop them off. Fancy not including his mum in his bubble now we’re at level 3. So I’ll have to do his job ??

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  28th April 2020

          Contact Stuff.
          There’s a story of woes there with greta possibilities for headlines.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  28th April 2020

            She wanted to chat as well. She’s obviously lonely as hell, poor lady.

            Reply
        • Shakespeare.

          Reply
          • Are there 40 watt bulbs now in incandescents ? 60 watts seem the smallest. I use these in my retro shades. The 40s must be ancient.

            Reply
            • Being cruel in order to be kind doesn’t mean being cruel to one person in order to be kind to another person

            • Corky

               /  29th April 2020

              Hard to get the old types now. I have to go to a speciality light shop, since closed, to get the older type of clear bulbs.

              The reason I get those bulbs is because they produce light that is the nearest to natural light. Neon tubes, if I remember correctly, is the next best.

              Other bulbs, especially the energy efficient mercury filled ones, aren’t good for your health, especially if they break.

            • Gezza

               /  29th April 2020

              Yes. They’re just the old standard type bulb. I didn’t look at all the bulbs she had in there. I imagine when it was first purchased it had the very small, clear 25w type. We had two similar flower-shade 5 bulb chandelier put in our lounge when we had our first (very basic) house built.

              They used to be plentiful in supermarkets but these bulbs might be hard to get now. Not sure if they produce 25w-equivalent LEDs or energy efficient ones.

              An electrician recently told me never to put anything more powerful than 75w in a standard light socket.

          • Duker

             /  28th April 2020

            Plenty of dim bulbs around here….

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  29th April 2020

              Hmm. No, actually there’s not.

              Most of the posters here are articulate & intelligent.

              There’s a couple of apparently bitter & twisted individuals who like to fling that kind of accusation, & other put downs, about with gay abandon, thinking they’re superior types.

              They have huge blind spots that prevent them from noticing their own litanies of unsupported or incorrect statements proven wrong. They tend to be obsessed with putting others down & trying to provoke shit fights with posters they’ve developed a dislike for. But you get that on blogs.

  4. NOEL

     /  28th April 2020

    Just got back from my morning exercise stroll. Far fewer walking than yesterday. Yesterday the sounds of voices and birds this morning the sound of garden contractors and tradies.
    NZ working again?

    Reply
  5. oldlaker

     /  28th April 2020

    If Simon Bridges survives the current instability in his party, he can simply adopt Scott Morrison’s mantra of “Jobs and growth!”, which won him the election against all predictions.
    It doesn’t have to be any more profound than that.
    “Kindness” won’t cut much ice as a mantra as the economic carnage piles up.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  28th April 2020

      Scott Morrison was a new leader , actually PM , while the opposition leader wasnt very popular. There was a big pork barrel campaign around marginal seats, thats what the government will do here , but in regions as we have MMP.
      What you have suggested will work for Ardern not Bridges.
      You are forgetting that Australia has preferential voting AND a mining billionaire who was anti labour who splashed $70 mill in marginal seats, probably as a front for other mining billionaires

      Reply
  6. artcroft

     /  28th April 2020

    My guess is that Bridges will stay. The thinking being if this election is competitive for National it will be because the pain caused by the coming depression is so deep, nothing can save Jacinda, not even an opposition campaign led by Simon. But if the pain ain’t all that, nothing can defeat Jacinda, so Simon can take the fall. Either way Bridges stays on as leader.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  28th April 2020

      Damn it, Arty. That’s like asking Simon to choose between hemorrhoids on the election trail…or C19.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th April 2020

      … at least until Jacinda looks likely to lose, then there might be a sudden coup.

      Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  28th April 2020

    Bridges just looks, increasingly.. like an angry small dog, barking at passing RED or Grn cars 😀
    >come on down Paula.. your number is up ?? :/

    Reply
  8. Happy

     /  28th April 2020

    This is Wellington beltway nonsense.
    Nick Smith is worried about a new policy group – or more likely losing his seat following boundary switches and not likely to be in Cabinet again. Bridges has achieved a lot in a short period. Look at the list of about turns during lockdown he made Labour do from green keepers to quarantine to testing. It seemed that Labour had no idea and just did what Simon said 3 days after he said it. Under MMP the election would be very close, but it’s ok there’s now 1m kiwis working (Jacindas figure) only leaves another 1.6 milllion still not working.
    The election will be as Bill Clinton famously said ‘it’s about the economy stupid’. Meanwhile the Minister of health in the biggest pandemic in 100 years can’t follow his own rules, other Labour MPs have no idea about small businesses and today Twyford that genius is telling councils they can’t decrease rates! When the electorate goes to the polls and pressure is out on the litany of failure of Labour over the last 3 years Arden will wilt. Unless she can by some miracle fix the economic woes by then.

    Reply

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