Last legs of leadership for Bridges

Talk of changing the Leader of the Opposition is not uncommon, especially by political opponents trying to stir, but after another very poor poll result for himself and for National it looks like the last legs of leadership for Simon Bridges.

In fact bridges says he knows of two challengers and the National leadership will be put to the test by next Tuesday at the latest (when the next caucus meeting is scheduled).

I don’t think National can afford to let it drag out that long.

Poll support has been turned badly against National, They started the year with two good results (RR 43.3% and CB 46%) but a leaked UMR polls this year have gone 38%, 35% to 29% last month (with Labour up to 55%).

And polling last week by Newshub/Reid Research matched this with National on 30.6% (Labour 56.5).

And while in ‘Preferred Prime Minister’ Bridges had been creeping up to 11% in February, UMR had him down to 7% lst month and RR has him on 4.5%.

The performance of bridges through the Covid crisis has been sometimes ok-ish but was often criticised for being out of touch. He also has a problem with his presentation. He often appears to be negative and whiny, and there is no easy fix to that.

there is now open support of an alternative leader from ex-Prime Minister and National leader Jim Bolger: Former PM Jim Bolger backs Todd Muller for next National leader

Bolger told RNZ’s Checkpoint that MP Todd Muller had the attributes to be National’s next leader.

Muller, who worked in Bolger’s office when he was Prime Minister, is understood to have the numbers to roll Simon Bridges, should its caucus make that decision when it meets next Tuesday.

Bolger said he was sure the National caucus was doing a lot of “soul-searching” as it tried to determine the way ahead.

I’m sure some of the National caucus will have informed Bolger of that. Him going public is an ominous sign for Bridges.

And after being defiant following Monday’s poll Bridges now concedes he has challengers. Newshub: MPs will challenge for National Party leadership, Simon Bridges confirms

“There is a focus on the leadership of the National Party. I understand that two of my colleagues will challenge, want to and seek to challenge, Paula Bennett and I for the leadership and the deputy leadership of the National Party,” he told The AM Show.

He refused to name the two colleagues, how he came to know of the challenge, if he had spoken to the MPs, or when they will announce their run for the top jobs.

“I think it is for them to state their leadership intentions. I want to give them the dignity of being able to make their statements,” Bridges said.

Bridges called for the issue to be resolved quickly so the focus can get back on Kiwis. He said he will put his leadership to the test by Tuesday at the latest.

“I am very confident that I will win, but I do want to put it to the test as I say, so we can quickly resolve this and get back to the things that matters for New Zealanders.

When a leader in a weak and weakening position concedes he has challengers it looks like he is toast.

National’s pollster David Farrar as good as confirms the leadership challenge at Kiwiblog: National’s leadership

As with any major political event I will cover it on Kiwiblog, but as has been my long standing practice I won’t share my opinions on what I think Caucus should do… (because he works for the party and because he knowns many MPs very well).

My only advice to National is to not let things fester.


Todd Muller looks the most likely replacement. He has been MP for Bay of Plenty since 2014, and while not well known has done a lot of work on National’s climate change policy, which largely supports what the Government is doing.

He has a healthy majority, getting more than double the votes of his Labour challenger last election.

Judith Collins is another likely challenger, but the ongoing word is she doesn’t have a lot of support among National MPs. Cameron Slater has stopped openly promoting her. All National MPs seem to have distanced themselves from Slater (he switched to promoting Winston Peters three years ago and that appears to be his current agenda) but the taint remains for Collins. Salter keeps dumping on just about everyone else in National.


I was going to post about Stuff giving Bridges some free self promotion – Simon Bridges: Five things we need to do to get New Zealand working after Covid-19 – but that seems to be a last gasp now.


Bridges is being interviewed on NZ now. He starts by diverting to ‘focussing on the issues of the day’.

But he is refocussed quickly and he concedes what has been reported already without naming the challengers.

He switches to electioneering again but is refocussed again. He says he is very confident he and Paula Bennett have the numbers, but they all say that.

He claims he has an ‘overwhelming majority’ support.

He says he isn’t surprised by the polls when asked about Colmar Brunton who is polling right now (to be published tomorrow apparently) and in the current circumstances that is unlikely to help Bridges.


Judith Collins has ruled out challenging.

All the word is that Todd Muller is challenging with Nikki Kaye deputy (the two people are a single ticket).

 

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58 Comments

  1. David

     /  20th May 2020

    Whoever is next up is toast, perhaps the 30% is the low point and they have the timing right but it wont be enough.
    I am more interested in politics than most but who the hell is Todd Muller, know absolutely nothing about him aside from he looks likes an unremarkable middle aged white guy. I am not enthusiastic at this stage.
    We need Paula or Judith its the only play.

    Reply
    • Griff.

       /  20th May 2020

      I vote Judith.
      Appeals to the conservatives but misses with most so makes national even more unelectable.

      Click to access 8-12-Feb-2020_1-NEWS-Colmar-Brunton-Poll-report-.pdf


      Simon Bridges 11% Up 1%-point
      Judith Collins 3% Down 1%-point
      Paula B did not even rate .

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  20th May 2020

      National can’t select the ex Air NZ dude many want, because he’s not in cabinet/caucus…that precludes him from putting his name forward under National’s rules.

      Reply
      • I presume you mean Luxon. He’s not even in the caucus yet, he’s standing in the next election for the first time.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  20th May 2020

          You are right… I forgot that. I was too busy listening to Michelle Boag explain the intricacies of the election process. Still, he would be a good candidate to have on standby. I think National may have more than one leader over the next three years.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th May 2020

            Last sentence. Good thinking. You may be right. If Muller doesn’t shine enuf, Luxon’s already been shoulder tapped & promoted – more or less a Sir John Key nominee already.

            They’ve got to move now in case Bridges drags them down lower in the polls. Kid Raptor is about to be taken out in a surprise attack by another predator. An old dinosaur has inflicted a fatal wound.

            Reply
  2. duperez

     /  20th May 2020

    Friends with benefits:

    Paula Benefit’: Simon Bridges mispronounces Paula Bennett’s name

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12333299

    I would have called it a mistake, ‘slip of the tongue’ not a mispronunciation.

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  20th May 2020

    Getting someone that the 30% core support for National is easy. Its getting back the other 15% they had with Key etc thats the hard part as they arent so partisan. The “who are they” approach doesnt make sense either , as for most people unlike you dont follow politics so avidly and not having heard of someone isnt a negative.

    Reply
  4. Corky

     /  20th May 2020

    The force is strong in Winston. He says if Simon is rolled, he won’t rule out working with National. Well, first he has to get back into parliament. If ex NZ1st voters on the radio are anything to go by, that won’t be happening. Of course Winston is an avid radio listener, so he’s pulling out all stops to get those voters back. He also realises should he get back into parliament and attach his colours with Labour…he will definitely go down with [deleted, derogatory] Jacinda when economic reality turns her into an ugly step aunty.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th May 2020

      Economic reality isnt what you think. Even if unemployment rose 5% ( 1 in 20) thats only 1 person in 40-50. As unemployment is % of the active workforce not population

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  20th May 2020

        ”Economic reality isn’t what you think.”

        It’s not what you think. It’s about peoples back pockets. With all those middleclass folk becoming beanies for the first time…you had better believe when the money runs out, so will they.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  20th May 2020

          Those middle class people so far are ‘returned refugees’ from overseas ….are they going to blame the Government here for losing the job in Australia/Britain.
          Its a Global thing if you havent noticed

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  20th May 2020

            ”Those middle class people so far are ‘returned refugees’ from overseas .

            Yeah, some, for sure. But what about those folk made redundant from tourism, Smith City, MH Jeweller, the 4 businesses I know of, freight transport? Do these folk sound like beanie material? Do they live in the poor burbs. Probably not.

            https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/third-auckland-businesses-fear-permanent-closure-due-covid-19-crisis

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  20th May 2020

              You are the one who raised it ‘all those middleclass folk “, which I responded to
              Now you complain that some other people arent middle class

              So now scare/clickbait headlines are Ok now Plus its old news from weeks back with the Bauer thing. They are rubbish stories which are far more likely to INCREASE Labours vote
              I remmeber your predictions of civil unrest when the lock down started…yeah right pakeha people got upset when maori had roadblocks into their communities…but no complaints when pakeha people did the same for Coromandel to keep out the jafas

            • Corky

               /  20th May 2020

              Duker, you are the Martin Devlin of this blog. If ion the back foot throw the kitchen sink…deflect and write at a mile-a -minute.

              ”I remember your predictions of civil unrest when the lock down started…yeah right, Pakeha people got upset when Maori had roadblocks into their communities:”

              Two things: yes, I predicted that..and it didn’t happen. But it’s early days yet. You don’t have to be Einstein to see communities are going to come under stupendous stress from many causes as the year progresses. Already food banks and community support services are in dire straights.
              So, army involvement in civic affairs is still a possibility.

              The road blocks: Both Maori and Pakeha ones were condemned on talkback. You don’t listen, so you are ignorant. But there is no comparisons between the two. The Maori road blocks were threatening and intimidating. And there was way more of them than reported. In the Ureweras for examples there were three road blocks I know of.

              Those road blocks bring into question the authority of the government and police as regards the law and sovereignty. But average Kiwis, like you, are too thick to see how weak our police and government are…and how much stronger Maori and anti social sentiments are becoming.

            • Corky

               /  20th May 2020

              Update: Far North public road blocked. Tourists and National MP turned away. Authorities are in negotiations ( 😫). Can you believe this fugging bs. Why, yes, I can. Especially the long term ramifications.

              The National MP should have got in his ute and rammed the gate. Yes, he would have received the hobbies…but boy, that would have boosted Nationals flagging ratings.

            • Duker

               /  20th May 2020

              Quelle horreur those maoris are breaking the rules
              When driving a tractor up the steps of parliament is justified, because rule breaking is ok when national MPs do it……
              Cue long list of rules broken by Nats MPs when it’s suited them…. Angels you have your instructions , get to it and list them

            • Gezza

               /  20th May 2020

              Just covered this in OF, Corks.

  5. Duker

     /  20th May 2020

    A commentator at The Standard Matthew Whitehead has done a computer analysis on the electorate seats based on the party vote rising pushing up electorate votes for Labour
    His ‘reckons’ on those numbers Labour would win the following national held seats
    Auckland Central
    Whanganui
    Maungakiekie
    Tukituki
    Hutt South
    Nelson is a toss up as it depends on how strong the Greens run this time

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  20th May 2020

      Nelson dependent on how strong the Greens run? Everywhere dependent on how strong the Greens run and end up. Will they go into coalition with National? They’ve been with Labour who will need them again.

      It will be down to the extent of the National bounce back and whether Act get enough for a coalition with National. The bounce will likely see Goldsmith not trying again for the electorate vote to possibly see Act with have a couple of MPs to add to the National total.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th May 2020

        “Nelson dependent on how strong the Greens run”
        This was specific to Nelson as someone died and left them a lot of money only for Nelson campaign
        Core Greens voters will stay with them in electorates like this , but swing greens voters ( you know the type, female, well educated etc) might move to labour in electorate but party vote greens or maybe the other way round
        The boundary change carved off Brightwater from Nelson so thats probably losing a national voting area.

        Reply
    • Horrace

       /  20th May 2020

      I’d say half of that is correct.
      Equally Port Hills is now a National seat on paper as is the new one in Auckland, and the old Dunedin South is very marginal for Labour. So look at both sides….

      Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  20th May 2020

    I’m still waiting for an explanation of how Bridges ever got elected leader. It seemed incomprehensible at the time and nothing has changed that. Was it a desperate “Stop Collins” move?

    Reply
    • Horrace

       /  20th May 2020

      Alan – Actually Judith had only 1 vote in the last vote, hers. As did Joyce. Simon and Amy Adams had about 50 between them and Simon had about 40. Judith has nearly zero support because she can not be trusted by anyone.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  20th May 2020

        Simon has poor presentation and poor strategy. I just don’t understand his selection.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  20th May 2020

          They were shell-shocked. And Ardern had youth going for her. Once she got preggers she had the young mums’ n girls’ votes sewn up.

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  20th May 2020

            She got preggers and she had the young mums’ n girls’ votes sewn up? Are there stats to back that up? Or it’s just a feeling?

            I saw the results of a recent poll in the US which defined preferences by gender, age and ethnicity. I can’t find it but the link shows the sort of basis by which it might be able to be said, for example, that ‘African American women under 30 prefer Trump to Biden.’ Accepting of course that a poll is a poll and what people do in a secret ballot might be different. Was exit polling done in New Zealand to show young mums and girls’ voted for Labour?

            Click to access UNF%20PORL%20COVID-19%20Survey.pdf

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  20th May 2020

              Anecdotal. Don’t think anybody’s in media’s done that kind of deeper analysis of WHY people voted for Jacinda.

              I seem able to get people talking about politics. Probably because I’m a nice guy* & I’m obviously not tribal.

              Most of the females I’ve asked who they intend to vote for at the next election – from young to middle-aged – have said Jacinda. When I ask why? I get “I don’t know; I just like her” & on one occasion “I think it’s nice to have a young new mum as our Pry Minisda”.

              * Evidence:

        • Horrace

           /  20th May 2020

          Have you met him? Poor presentation and strategy says more for those who advise the leader than the leader. At the moment Labour is far better at controlling all messages as long as it is only Ardern talking as she is very good at communicating even stupid things. Anyone else in Labour says and does buckets of dumb and the public realize how useless the govt is… eg twyford, Clark, Lee’s-Galloway, Davis…. etc

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  20th May 2020

            I guess choosing your advisors is a key skill then. But even his statement today has a grating grammatical error if reported correctly.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  20th May 2020

            What about the Paula Benefit comment.
            The thing to remember is ‘All leadership is temporary’

            Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  20th May 2020

          @ Alan Wilkinson

          Re the election of Bridges in 2018, with the then-recent departure of the three giants Key, English and Joyce, and as Collins was persons non grata with the caucus, then like the selection of Bill Rowling after Norman Kirk died, it was a case of

          …who else?!

          Reply
    • Gezza

       /  20th May 2020

      I think he probably made a pitch for youth, Maori heritage (to counter Ardern’s appeal to those sectors), & sold himself as a Key clone – which he never was – to a caucus of shell-shocked MPs who were unable to comprehend how they could command the majority of seats & wind up not being in government.

      They knew Collins & Bennett were too polarising for big chunks of the electorate.

      Reply
  7. Horrace

     /  20th May 2020

    I can say more than most Pete that you are mistaken. The attack on Bridges is led by what you would call the Liberal wing of National who are always the most marginal electorally in the party. They also generally feel the least loved and they are talented and bored in opposition. But crucially There is not 29 votes in that group. Nor if they did win a vote would be able to get much more than 30% in an open Election, but they would protect their own positions.
    I’m aware that the following are most likely backing Muller:
    Nikki Kate
    Chris Bishop
    Nicola Willis
    Judith Collins
    David Bennett
    Tim Macindoe
    Nick Smith
    Maggie Barry (leaving this election)

    Perhaps 10 in total out of 55. Only Kaye and Collins would have been certain for a future Cabinet.

    Frankly, Nikki Kaye would have been Deputy Leader other than Paula Bennett 2 years ago but Nikki has breast cancer.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  20th May 2020

      I expect those numbers to grow over the next few days. Bolger has locked in the media sharks. Bridges was already struggling. It’s been a bizarre feature of National that the Party has polled well even in the last election while Bridges has been almost universally considered a plonker.

      Reply
      • Horrace

         /  20th May 2020

        Bolger is only backing Muller because Muller worked for him… muller is in his 50s and Muller asked him to say something. Bolger hasn’t been in politics for over 20 years and is still bitter about being rolled himself. When Shipley, Key and English talk it will be telling.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  20th May 2020


          Too good to not use somewhere today.

          When do you expect those 3 to talk?

          The msm won’t let this go now. Even if he survived a caucus vote he then has to attend to some disciplinary/ retaliatory moves; tricky.

          Colmar Brunton results will be fascinating if they’re polling now. It’s too untidy. He’ll have to go. National are pretty hard-nosed & focussed when they see the writing on the wall.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  20th May 2020

            However who ever pours the drink in the chalice for Simon and Paula may find they are made to drink from the same cup after the election.

            Wise heads may think this election is lost its best to have a clean start after the election otherwise they will repeat this all again next year

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  20th May 2020

              They’ll be calculating @ GHQ how many seats they’re likely to get with Bridges & with someone else.

            • Gezza

               /  20th May 2020

              And they have the example of a comparative political non-entity & lightweight Jacinda suddenly rescuing Labour from a party in a downward spiral. Knuckle-chewing stuff. Especially if a new chum might be able to put a coalition together. Take Jacinda out, Labour’s got Grant. That’s about it.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  20th May 2020

      Interesting. The Herald has been campaigning against Bridges for weeks but O’Brien is breaking ranks.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  20th May 2020

        I found that rather a jumbled muddle. Tova O’Brien, another self-annointed media star. No time for her at all.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th May 2020

        Tova – “You have got to admire the guts on this guy. It was a political power play for the ages. ”
        Its Management/Political leadership 101….not a power play for the ages, just as absurd as her ‘Ardern highest in a century.’

        However it does point to Bridges having made the effort behind the scenes to get Tova onside, probably through Paula Benefit who sinks or swims with Bridges

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  20th May 2020

        The Herald is quoting Collins and Mitchell saying the coup will fail.

        Reply
        • Maybe it will, but that’s likely to do more damage than if successful. It would show a divided and disgruntled caucus, with no easy way to repair the damage. Bridges was already struggling to appeal to the public, and clinging to power won’t change that.

          Reply
        • duperez

           /  20th May 2020

          Do you think that Collins and Mitchell angle is part of the Herald ‘campaigning’ against Bridges?

          That piece is garbage journalism of the type which often draws your ire. I called it ‘journalism’ for want of a better word. It’s at the level of 7 or 8 year old girls whispering about some other kid, playing some sort queen bee wannabe game.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  20th May 2020

          Could be right.

          He’s got the background for the job, but he’s a bit long in the tooth to go up against the twentysomething Jacinda passes herself off as, he’s not quite so photogenic as Bridges, doesn’t that thick vigorous-looking hair, & needs to do something with that hairstyle. Go for the headshave, maybe?

          But if they go in to the election with Bridges still at the helm, he’s still gonna be unpopular, especially with the mums n girls.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th May 2020

            Sacré bleu! 😠
            *doesn’t have that thick vigorous-etc.

            Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  20th May 2020

    Winston tries to be helpful:

    “Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Newstalk ZB if Bridges was rolled, he would not rule out working with the National Party.

    “We think the electorate should decide the combination after the election, not before. Having said that, the ruling out of me by Simon Bridges, again demonstrates how little he knows about the strategic importance of politics. You never say never.”

    Bridges did not seem to “grasp” putting the country first, he said. Even though Bridges may not make the post-election phone call to NZ First, someone else might, he said. Peters pointed out he had predicted Bridges would not make it to the election without a challenge. “Simon’s problem, sadly, is that he is just not authentic,” he told ZB.

    Peters had known Muller for a long time and said he was a “genuine product” but the question of leadership was for someone else to decide, he said.”
    -Stuff

    Reply
  9. Kimbo

     /  20th May 2020

    My abiding memory of Bridges was his performance being interviewed by John Campbell a few weeks after John Key had made his maestro performance over the GCSB reform bill with the same interviewer. Whereas Key had a light yet deft, indeed devastating touch, Bridges was all noise and unsubtle aggression. Well, that might work interrogating a hostile witness or the accused in district court, but has a negative impact in your living room. Sadly came across as a boy doing a man’s job.

    But Todd Who? Too late to change (at least when the proposed replacement is not Jacinda MkII), and four months is a life time in politics, Ardern has been getting a lot of oxygen, mostly all positive, but she is going to have to front some very bad economic news soon.

    Whether anyone other than Bridges could have got National to a better place than what they are now is unlikely, and I’m pretty sure National MPs losing their bottle at this point is not a good selling point for the necessary “we are more calm and competent” message.

    Reply
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    • Gezza

       /  20th May 2020

      The crucial question is whether the majority of his colleagues feel that it IS possible under HIS leadership. If they don’t – & he doesn’t LOOK a marketable product & winner – he’s potentially made National’s situation worse.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th May 2020

        They are all in La La Land , as the best outcome Bridges or Muller can offer is national is the largest party but not the government….again.
        The sub text which isn’t in the email is , my leadership will mean more of our caucus will keep your job, but without doubt we have another 3 yrs in opposition opportunity.

        The real test will how many more will announce their retirement instead. Watch this space mark my words

        Reply
  12. Gezza

     /  20th May 2020

    1News at 6’s Simon & Wendy Show opened with them announcing in excited voices that their Colmar Brunton poll is due out tomorrow & may determine the fate of Simon Bridges.

    Jess Mutch Mackay joined thecaction quickly by live cross to somewhere or other. They didn’t do a hatchet job. Showed a few folks interviewed in the street & being shown pix of Simon & Paula, then of the “relatively unknown” Todd Muller & Nikki Kaye.

    Everybody knew Simon, nobody knew Todd. One older lady bravely took a stab with “Simon Joyce”. One staunch & terse Nationalite matron said Simon was the right leader & was doing a good job.

    Reply

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