Time for Judith Collins?

There is only one person I can see who would be capable of stepping up and taking over the National Party leadership – Judith Collins.

National is in real trouble with the struggles and now resignation of Todd Muller they quickly need to get someone else in charge.

Collins is very good handling media, and she has a lot of support in the party.

She just lacks major support in the National caucus. A lot of their recent problems have been factional – the aggrieved Bridges faction versus the new Muller faction.

Having a leader independent of both of these factions would be a plus for someone able to command respect and demand loyalty.

National MPs either have too accept and support someone like Collins as leader, or continue to self destruct.

There is some talk of the reappointment of Simon Bridges, but I think that would be a bad move. National support was sliding under his flawed leadership, and he lost the confidence of a majority of his caucus. Putting him back in charge would be nuts.

So I don’t see any option but Judith – if she is willing to give it a go.

Political operators and lobbyists being used by media promoting leadership coup

The media were always going to give a lot of coverage to a major party leadership challenge, as they did when Simon Bridges outed the challenge of Todd Muller and the subsequent showdown and change of leader. It was big political news and should have received prominent coverage.

But it also showed a major flaw of the media – their use of political operators and lobbyists to comment on the story.

Matthew Hooton is often used by the media in support of stories, even though he is a professional lobbyist. He was given a shot at promoting his agenda without having to disclose any possible involvement in the challenge.

And Michelle Boag suddenly popped up out of the woodwork to and was quoted a number of times in support of a change. She would be most unlikely to be an independent observer.

NZ Herald – Anatomy of a coup: How Todd Muller felled Simon Bridges and who helped him

This is behind their paywall, but a key part is repeated on Twitter:


RNZ 18 May: Labour surges, National plummets in Newshub-Reid Research poll

“Clearly the leadership has failed. Simon Bridges is down to 4.5 percent. The public simply does not like him, that isn’t fair, the public simply did not like Andrew Little.

“He’s a perfectly pleasant person Andrew Little but the public did not like him, and so Labour had no choice in the end but to get rid of him, and National is now at that point.”

RNZ 19 May: Political poll results with Hooton and Jones

“This is a 25-point gap between National and Labour and that’s simply extraordinary. And the National Party has to take that very seriously, they are taking it seriously, although they do expect another poll to come out on Thursday from TVNZ by Colmar Brunton, and they’ll just see what that has to say.

“If it is as bad as this, I would expect there would be enormous pressure on the current leader and deputy leader to at least offer their resignations to the caucus.

However, a better showing in the Colmar Brunton polling might give Simon Bridges a lifeline, he says.

A “hunk” of National MPs are reluctant to be responding to polls, Hooton says.

“Their views on this is what’s going to decide Simon Bridges future.”

RNZ 21 May (audio): Collins key to National Party battle – Hooton  Political commentator Matthew Hooton speaks to Kim Hill.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Political commentator Matthew Hooton said Bridges’ move to call the leadership vote was an own goal.

“I think it was another example of the poor political judgement that has plagued his political leadership quite frankly.

“I think Simon Bridges’ move yesterday was probably one of the most extraordinary acts of political harikari that we’ve seen.”

Hooton said Muller’s supporters would likely have lost their nerve there would have been no challenge.

“But by taunting Muller, forcing him and … Nikki Kaye to act … there is now a vote on Friday.

“And I think, the way this is going, Mr Bridges will lose and Muller will become leader of the party.

If Bridges survived the leadership vote it would cost the party any chance of winning the election in September, he said.

If Muller and Kaye failed in their challenge Bridges would demote them to the backbenches which would cost the party votes.

“He cannot afford to lose Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye from his senior team, or else he will lose support from both farmers, provincial New Zealanders, and also urban liberals in Auckland.

RNZ 22 May (audio): Commentator backing Muller to win National Party challenge Political commentator Matthew Hooton is supporting Muller to win – Kim Hill asked him how close does he expect the vote to be.

But Hooton was promoting leadership change – in a last NZ herald column last month (24 April) Matthew Hooton (column): Simon Bridges’ leadership beyond salvaging

Hooton is a regular on RNZ and in NZ Herald and is usually a worthwhile commentator, but it’s fair to ask whether his opinions promoted this week were independent of the leadership coup.

If it turns out he was working for Muller that would not reflect well on him due to lack of disclosure, but woukld also refelct poorly onn the media who give him free publicity.

Michelle Boag is not a regular on media, but managed to be given a say on the challenge too.

Newstalk ZB 19 May – Michelle Boag: Bridges could be another victim of Covid-19 fallout

Michelle Boag says it’s no surprise people have responded positively to the Prime Minister – whose ratings shot up to almost 60 percent.

She told Chris Lynch Arden’s been visible everywhere during the pandemic and Bridges hasn’t.

“There is no doubt there’s a good chance of him becoming yet another victim of Covid-19.”

She says that will be up to the Caucus to decide the leader’s fate.

RNZ 21 May: Former National Party president Michelle Boag on leadership challenge Former National Party president Michelle Boag speaks to Corin Dann.

RNZ 21 May: Simon Bridges’ tactics likely to lose him the leadership challenge – commentator

Former National Party president Michelle Boag told Morning Report Bridges shot himself in the foot by holding the vote tomorrow rather than next week.

This was because it made it harder for other leadership contenders to jump into the race, and those unhappy with Bridges’ leadership could rally around one candidate rather than their votes being split between a number of challengers.

However calling for the leadership vote was the right decision, she said.

“I think it’s the right thing for the National Party to get this sorted as quickly as possible and I think the caucus will be really pleased to have an early opportunity to do that.”

She said the need for a leadership vote was not solely prompted by the recent poll.

“It is about months and months, and sometimes years, of these MPs having negative feedback about their leader, not only from party members but from constituents.

“So while the poll may have been the thing that sparked [it] – the catalyst for this challenge – there’s no doubt this has been building for a long time.”

Boag popping up in media is a sure sign that she is promoting some sort of outcome.

I think that with important political issues, and leadership changes rank right up there, media should take care not to promote people with interests in the outcomes.

Cameron Slater, one of the most agenda driven political operators around, was given some oxygen by John Banks on radio during the week to talk about the National leadership challenge, but the only leader Slater seems interested in promoting these days is Winston Peters.

New National leader today looks likely

The National caucus is scheduled to meet at noon today to decide whether to dump Simon Bridges and replace him as their leader with probably Todd Muller (there are other rumours floating around but I doubt they will come to anything).

A bad poll for National and bridges on Tuesday gave impetus to a coup that seems to have alre3ady been fomenting. Bridges foorced the issue in Wednesday, calling the caucus meeting for Friday. Another bad poll for both National (29%) and Bridges (bugger all %) yesterday confirmed the party’s dire situation.

Media are talking as if it’s almost a done deal against Bridges. It’s possible he may step down before high noon.

Richard Harman (Politik): D-day for Bridges

Bridges camp was aware last night that defeat was likely today.

They must have been startled yesterday by reports of significant defections of caucus heavyweights from Leader Simon Bridges’ support. The confirmation on One News Colmar Brunton poll of National’s low rating appears to have simply added to the pressure for change.

It is even possible that Bridges might – for the sake of party unity — decide to resign before the caucus meeting.

NZ Herald – National Party showtime: Simon Bridges and Todd Muller prepare for leadership battle

Yesterday, neither the Bridges nor the Muller camp seemed certain they had the 28 votes needed, but both claimed to have strong numbers and one MP involved said it was looking “very, very close.”

The poll result may have changed that for MPs still wavering.

Muller’s camp said the poll results showed there was an urgent need for a change in leadership to reclaim that lost ground – and even Bridges’ own supporters acknowledged the poll would make it a lot harder for Bridges.

Newshub: National Party MPs prepare for midday Simon Bridges, Todd Muller leadership contest

Until Thursday night, the numbers looked to be evenly balanced with neither side willing to claim a majority but the 29 percent result seems to have pushed a group of undecided MPs towards the Muller camp, and potentially some who had been backing Bridges.

MPs talk about acting in the best interests of the party but what will be motivating many – namely list MPs and those in marginal seats – is self interest; with these poll numbers many would be out of Parliament.

So the outcome looks uncertain at this stage, publicly at least.

If Bridges hangs on it is likely to be dire for National. He already looks like damaged goods, and a close win will just highlight that lack of strong support for him in caucus, and the public are likely to see him as a lame duck leader.

If Muller wins it won’t be easy to even stop the bleeding of support let alone rebuilding it. He has had a low political profile and is unknown by most voters, but he has the advantages of not being Bridges and having no known baggage. He also has a probable advantage of polls just having been done – it will be a while before there’s another poll so will give him a chance to get established.

I would be most unlikely top vote for National led by Bridges, he has rarely impressed me and I don’t like the direction he seems to be taking the party.

If Muller or someone else I will take time to decide whether i think the change is for the better of not. It’s impossible to know how people will come across as leaders until they have had a go for a while.

We will find out some time today who will have the job of trying to revive a party with evaporating support.

Bridges fighting for leadership but numbers may be against him

Simon Bridges precipitated a quick resolution to the leadership challenge against him. he National caucus will meet at in Wellington at noon on Friday to decide whether to dump Bridges.

At this stage there is only one challenger, Todd Muller, with Nikki Kaye proposed as his deputy. Both Judith Collins and Mark Mitchell have said they will not challenge, and they probably don’t have time to change their minds due to the rushed timeframe.

Richard Harman thinks that Muller probably has the numbers to roll Bridges: How Bridges flushed out Muller

National Leader Simon Bridges was last night phoning caucus members trying to win enough votes to stave off a vote of no confidence this Friday. But it is probably too late.

Multiple sources have told POLITIK that there is a majority who want him out.

If the vote succeeds, there is only one challenger for the leadership, Bay of Plenty MP, Todd Muller.

The other possible contender, Papakura MP, Judith Collins, has made it clear she will not be standing.

POLITIK understands it was Collins who first alerted Bridges to Muller’s challenge last Saturday. One source told POLITIK she told him that there was a majority in the caucus who opposed him continuing in the leadership.

From Simon Bridges vs Todd Muller: It’s all about the big W for National

Yet as it stood late yesterday, the Bridges forces were confident of their numbers, which importantly, includes a lot of the heavyweights on the party’s front bench and within the party including shadow cabinet members Paul Goldsmith, Todd McClay, Michael Woodhouse, Judith Collins, Mark Mitchell, and Brett Hudson. Between them they cover the portfolios of finance, trade, economic development, defence, justice, health, and police.

But team Muller is also confident it has the numbers, especially as at least 16 current MPs are facing unemployment if the numbers from Monday night’s poll are replicated on election night. Muller himself is calling or meeting with every MP he can.

Woodhouse, Goldsmith and Hudson are in precarious situations – on current polling they could easily lose their seats in Parliament.

It’s standard for defenders and contenders to claim to have the numbers, but that could be bluff and bluster, and numbers can easily change, especially if MPs sense which way a decision may go, and consider their political careers.

A challenge isn’t much of a surprise. Bridges has failed to appeal to most voters, and support for national has slipped badly over the last two months.

Stuff has details on Muller: Todd Muller, the man who could be prime minister

Detractors lash Muller as a return to the “pale, stale, male” era of big business and bigger egos the party should have left behind.

But Muller backers equally make the point that if National plans to torch Labour for a lack of private-sector experience, Crown prosecutor-cum-MP Bridges might not be the man to do it.

A 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll, completed last night and to be revealed tonight, is likely to add to the numbers against Bridges.

Muller is not well known but that would change, to an extent, if he took over the leadership. He would still battle in the shadow of Jacinda Ardern’s media profile, but the hope must be that he can at least stem the bleeding of support for National.

Matthew Hooton on RNZ this morning called Bridges’ calling of an urgent meeting an act of political harikari, although claims that earlier in the week Muller was a couple of votes short. he thinks that Bridges’ action yesterday may have swung numbers against him.

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.

Ardern’s leadership

Post from Gezza:

A fan-girl piece by Suze Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Executive Development at Massey University:

As someone who researches and teaches leadership – and has also worked in senior public sector roles under both National and Labour-led governments – I’d argue New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving most Western politicians a masterclass in crisis leadership.

Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to make decisions on which the lives of tens of thousands of other people depend. If you get things wrong, or delay deciding, they die. Your decisions affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in huge economic disruption, mass layoffs and business closures.

Imagine you must act quickly, without having complete certainty your decisions will achieve what you hope. Now imagine that turning your decisions into effective action depends on winning the support of millions of people … success or failure hinges on getting most people to choose to follow your leadership – even though it demands sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to their daily lives.

Three communication skills every leader needs
Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker … said New Zealand had the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world at the moment” – and that New Zealand is “a huge standout as the only Western country that’s got an elimination goal” for Covid-19.

American professors Jacqueline and Milton Mayfield’s research into effective leadershp … highlights “direction-giving”, “meaning-making” and “empathy” as the three key things leaders must address to motivate followers to give their best.

Being a public motivator is essential – but it’s often done poorly. The Mayfields’ research shows direction-giving is typically over-used, while the other two elements are under-used.

Ardern’s response to Covid-19 uses all three approaches. In directing New Zealanders to “stay home to save lives”, she simultaneously offers meaning and purpose to what we are being asked to do. In freely acknowledging the challenges we face in staying home – from disrupted family and work lives, to people unable to attend loved ones’ funerals– she shows empathy about what is being asked of us.

The March 23 press conference announcement of New Zealand’s lockdown is a clear example of Ardern’s skilful approach, comprising a carefully crafted speech, followed by extensive time for media questions.

(In contrast, Boris Johnson pre-recorded his March 24 lockdown announcement, offering no chance for questions from the media, while framing the situation as an “instruction” from government, coupled with a strong emphasis on enforcement measures. Where Ardern blended direction, care and meaning-making, Johnson largely sought “compliance”.)

[And Trump … yesss … well … all over the place – in typical Trumpian chaorder. – Gez] )

Ardern has used daily televised briefings and regular Facebook live sessions to clearly frame the key questions and issues requiring attention. Also she has regulated distress by developing a transparent framework for decision-making – the government’s alert level framework – allowing people to make sense of what is happening and why.

Importantly, that four-level alert framework was released and explained early, two days before a full lockdown was announced, in contrast with the prevarication and sometimes confusing messages from leaders in countries such as Australia and the UK.

More …
… … … …

This article has made me reflect on Jacinda’s leadership.

Even though I have expressed some criticisms on YNZ of what I perceive to be some oversights, unforeseen adverse consequences, & other minor failings in Jacinda’s “Go hard & go early” Covid-19 “lockdown response – overall I agree that Ardern has done a remarkably good job as the country’s leader at this time of global health emergency.

I also agree that she stands out from many other democratic country leaders in the strength & determination she has demonstrated, AND in the relative clarity & consistency of her Pandemic Response Team’s communications to businesses & the public of what the different alert levels & restrictions are (an excellent Our Plan – the four alert levels a detailed & well-laid out A3 poster-style leaflet delivered to all households, & a variety of other targeted information material, including notices for Rest Homes, for example).

Yes, there was some early confusion over policing of the lockdown (more a reflection on senior police leadership & the difficulties for them, caught on the hop, of clarifying & codifying actual vs police management’s preferred responses to situations “on the ground”, & then internally communicating up-to-date & comprehensive guidelines for front line staff, than on Jacinda).

And there were/are occasions where Jacinda’s press briefing assurances on what airport checks, self-isolation follow ups, & Covid-19 testing were being done that were just not matching what was actually happening out there in Kiwiland.

But even some of Jacinda & the coalition government’s most constant critics on this blog have noted their satisfaction at times with at least some aspects of the Pandemic Response, & of Ardern’s willingness to front for the strategy – to take the (mostly) bouquets, AND any brickbats for the government’s actions & the rather draconian restrictions now imposed on all New Zealanders & visitors, unparalleled in a century for a non-wartime situation.

One thing’s for sure; it’s a lot easier to criticise the PM than to be in the job & be the one who will be held responsible for how it all works out longer term for New Zealand, when the crisis & the emergency are over.

Some have predicted we are headed for an economic disaster. Certainly according to the economic pundits national & global economies will be facing major disruptions & a recession – perhaps even a depression – & New Zealand will no doubt find itself having to do a rejig. People have lost their jobs, although significant interim measures have been taken to encourage as many good employers as possible to keep locked down workshop workers & office staff on payrolls.

A few have even predicted the start of a new world order, as it were. The demise of Capitalism and /or the last gasp of finacialism, corporatism & the 1 %, in favour of a more inclusive, sharing society – perhaps one based around a UBI.

I dunno. Personally I doubt it. Although around the world maybe there might be an increased focus on whether it is worth implementing policies that encourage increased local manufacturing – by thinking smarter, minimising costs to remain competitive enuf with trade partners to allow small scale local production to be economically sustainable – so that future trade & economic shocks don’t leave governments too captive to overseas suppliers, without any capacity to manufacture needed goods & equipment in the event there are global shortages or supply chain disruptions?

My feeling at the moment, though, is that things will remain largely the same as they have been, with perhaps a few tweaks & improvements here & there, once the country & the workforce gets back up & running again & jobs become available. Maybe new jobs for folk who discovered new interests & marketable talents during their enforced break from their old ones?

I don’t know why, exactly, but I’m feeling quite positive about the future. Maybe it’s because this government is showing itself to be very agile? It certainly seems to be listening, adjusting, & prepared to be pragmatic. And to be now looking forward & starting to plan for the end of the crisis & the resumption of normal life & work.

And maybe also because of Ardern’s agreeing to the establishment of the Epidemic Response Committee, stacked with opposition members and chaired by the leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, as a mechanism for holding the government AND the bureaucracy to account. From my perspective anyway the Committee has been doing a sterling job. We may end up with better politicians & senior public servants overall as a result of the functioning of this Committee.

I think I agree with something Parti said the other day. Not about a brave new world along the lines of Frank E. Warner’s dream. But that Jacinda Ardern is possibly going to be recorded very favourably in future history books. Maybe even one of our greatest PMs? Who knows – it’s very difficult to make predictions, especially about the future 😉.

First vote on UK Conservative Party leadership

Missy reporting from the UK:

On Monday the Conservative Party leadership campaign officially began. Ten MPs officially entered the race, they were:

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Mark Harper.

This morning was the first round of voting by the Parliamentary Party, after a change of rules a couple of weeks ago candidates must get more than 16 votes from fellow MPs in order to progress with the candidates with the lowest number of votes being eliminated if all are over 16 votes, as opposed to previous rules which stated that only the candidate with the lowest number of votes was to be eliminated at each round regardless of number of votes of second lowest. The new rules mean that multiple candidates can be eliminated at once.

In today’s voting Boris Johnson received a higher number of votes than originally expected, this could be due to some polling this week which shows that Boris is the candidate most likely able to win a General Election.

The results from today’s vote is:
Johnson: 114
Hunt: 43
Gove: 37
Raab: 27
Javid: 23
Hancock 20
Stewart: 19
Leadsom: 11
Harper: 10
McVey: 9

The odds for Johnson winning have been slashed to 1/5.

Gove’s campaign suffered a bit earlier this week after he admitted over the weekend to using cocaine about 20 years ago. The admission came ahead of an unauthorised biography due to be released that details his drug use.

Tory leadership contest

Media frenzy over National leadership

Yesterday the political media were persistently pushing for declarations of trust from Simon Bridges and declarations of loyalty from Judith Collins, knowing that neither would be frank. This is political theatre at it’s worst.

The National caucus had a longer than usual meeting yesterday, prompting the attention after doubts have grown about the ability of Bridges to hold on to the leadership.

Newshub claim to have some sort of scoop:  Newshub understands Sir John Key has shown support for Judith Collins

Newshub understands former Prime Minister Sir John Key has shown some support behind the scenes for Judith Collins to be National leader.

Key would not confirm this to Newshub, only to say, “I don’t comment on leadership issues” – but because of his standing in the party, MPs still go to him for advice and he commands huge respect in the National Caucus.

An endorsement – or even a subtle nod – could be a game-changer.

Or not – Key has no vote on the leadership, and he should be reluctant to get involved in leadership issues.

Newshub was also leaked details of the National Party’s Caucus meeting on Tuesday, which included a specific warning to MPs not to talk to Newshub.

Simon Bridges survived another day as leader of the National Party as well as his first showdown with MPs after some started laying the groundwork for a coup in favour of Judith Collins.

National’s Caucus meeting was Bridges’ first face off with all his MPs in two weeks and since some of them started seriously stirring against his leadership, saying the numbers are firming up for Collins.

National MPs holed up for more than two hours in the meeting, and Bridges emerged victorious.

This is emotive language in lieu of actual news. ‘They are ‘holed up’ for every caucus meeting.

Bridges didn’t emerge victorious, he came out with no change to his leadership.

The rest of the Newshub report is not deserving of being repeated. It is poor nonsense from political editor Tova O’Brien.

This from Politik (prior to yesterday’s meeting) is more reasoned:

It is.clear that National’s membership is becoming impatient; that it wants to see the party produce a plan for the future and engage less in day to day brawling with Labour.

There has been an amount of credible media speculation that this is

There was almost a tacit acknowledgement of that yesterday with a lengthy defence of his leadership by his deputy Paula Bennett.

“There are things you want in a leader,” she said.

“I want somebody who is intelligent.

“I want someone that is going to work harder than me, because that is what I expect in my leader.

“And without sounding it, I work pretty bloody hard for this party and this country.

“But he works harder than I do.

“He works harder than any of our other MPs.

“I want someone who has a vision for this country and puts that first.

“And someone who knows that whatever discussions we are having in the caucus are not about who is sitting in what seat but what is best for this country.

“That is what I want in a Leader, and that is what you have got in Simon Bridges.”

National has three more regional conferences to go. There were signs in Hamilton that the grassroots party members want change, possibly big change. The challenge over the next three conferences will be for the leadership to demonstrate that they are listening. Otherwise those standing ovations will become even more reluctant.

Working harder is not good enough if it is simply not working, and that’s how it appears with Bridges. Too many people cringe whenever he speaks on television.

Some of the media sharks smell leadership blood and are more than circling, they are trying to force bites.

National will take their own time to work out what to do about Bridges, who shows no sign of giving up.



Bridges highlighting ‘discipline and unity’

When a leader sees a need to publicly demand unity and discipline in their caucus I think they have major problems.

National leader Simon Bridges speaks out on leadership, discipline and unity

National leader Simon Bridges is expected to deliver a strong message to his caucus on Tuesday that the only path to power is through discipline and uniting behind his leadership.

He said the message he got from delegates at the first of four regional conferences he attended at the weekend, in Hamilton, was the same.

The issue of leadership had not been raised specifically with him, he said.

“But there was a clear and strong message that in addition to holding the Government to account in developing our plans, we win back power by being disciplined and unified,” he told the Herald. “That came through loud and clear.”

“I think there is a mature understanding that this is a new Government and the country has rallied around it in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks,” Bridges said.

“But National is still in the 40s, within striking distance of Government with a good campaign.”

Bridges is either fooling himself or trying to fool the public. Either way, he just seems foolish.

Asked if the speculation about his leadership inevitably destabilised it, Bridges said: “Whilst none of that was raised [at the conference], it is very clear from members of the party that they know to win we need certainty about leadership, we need discipline and unity.”

“Our members are proud that National has defeated the capital gains tax although they are anxious that they are going see more attempts at cash grabs from the Government to pay for slushy machines and [NZ First MP] Shane Jones’ slush fund.”

There was a strong view that there had been a real lack of delivery from the Government from housing to transport, where no new road had begun under this Government.

“They talked a big game but aren’t delivering.”

Unity and discipline are relatively easy under strong leadership. They become a problem under failing leadership.

Publicly talking about them shows signs of a major problem.

Bridges appears to be flogging a dead leadership.