How deluded is Simon Bridges?
He still seems to think he might get New Zealand first to switch sides at the next election and become his coalition partner.
In the last 24 hours we have Bridges making a song and dance about the NZ First donations allegations, calling them the most significant electoral allegations in the country’s history. But ask him if that means he’ll rule out working with NZ First at the next election, and the answer is a little surprising: “I’m not ruling them out today… it’s premature”.
You know why it’s surprising? Because no one else thinks a National-NZ First coalition is a possibility for a bunch of really good reasons.
Winston Peters as recently as last week was suing senior members of the National Party in court who are still going to be there at the next election.
Winston Peters consistently blames the previous National government for many of what he perceives as problems in this country. How could he blame them, then form coalition with them?
But, of course, this is Winston Peters we’re talking about, and he does surprising things. And some of his MPs are tight with some National MPs and they have after work drinks in wellington. And that probably gives National some hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance.
But that’s exactly what Winston wants national to believe so that, post-election, he can get the best deal at negotiation time.
Simon Bridges should forget this idea. He should be seriously thinking about ruling NZ First out altogether. That’s what John Key did at the 2008 election. NZ First was under fire for a donation scandal, Key said he wouldn’t work with them, and they were out of parliament at the next election.
It would be a smart move for National. Right now, publicly lusting after someone else’s coalition partner just makes National look desperate. And ruling NZ First out would make National look principled as opposed to Labour and Jacinda Ardern who are increasingly being tainted by their tolerance of NZ First’s bad behaviour.
As I said, no one believes NZ First will go with National anyway. To the rest of us it just looks like National’s wasting their time.