Simon Bridges cutting out Winston Peters is a good call, but there’s bad timing.
Bridges didn’t need to make this call this early. I mean, it was inevitable that he was going to make this call.
Winston Peters was never going to work with him anyway, most of us could see that. But Simon Bridges should have played him, and then made this announcement about two months before the election
But by going this early, he’s given Winston and Labour time to strategise. So Winston now has several months to change his campaign strategy.
Normally he’d do the whole thing where he pretend that he could go with either party.
Now he has to go with Labour, and his strategy, if he was sensible, would be to pitch himself to National Party voters worried about a radical Labour-Green government. So he just needs to tell them to vote for him to make sure crazy stuff doesn’t happen.
He has months to prepare that campaign now, and Bridges has given Labour time to plan as well.
Now that they know Winston is their man, they might want to cut a deal on a seat like Northland to make sure Winston or Shane Jones get in. Labour’s done it before helping Peters with the Northland by-election, they might do it again.
Or they might not? But they have now got months to do focus grouping and polling, and figure out if it’s a good idea or not.
Why Simon Bridges did it so early I don’t know. Maybe he wants to avoid months of questions about whether he’s going to go with NZ First. If I was him, I would’ve ridden that out – after a few weeks of the same questions, most of us stop listening.
Maybe he wants to look strong and decisive, but he doesn’t, because it never really was his choice, was it? No one actually believes that Winston was ever going to go with National.
All Bridges has done is given Winston and Labour to plan a new strategy.