The Soap Box: Burning Bridges - hapless Nats leader is toast

Author
Barry Soper ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 6 December 2018, 6:42a.m.
National Party leader Simon Bridges.
National Party leader Simon Bridges.

COMMENT

The old political warhorse Rob Muldoon was once asked whether he was going to be a thorn in his successor Jim McLay's side.

His incredible cheek crinkled, he cocked his head, and he said he'd be more like a little prick.

Muldoon spent his time on the backbench undermining McLay and less than two years after becoming leader he was defeated by Jim Bolger, becoming the first National leader not to lead the party into an election.

The same fate looks likely to befall the hapless Simon Bridges - only he's unlikely to remain in the job for as long as McLay did.

It'll be National Party history repeating itself.

The rumblings in the party are now becoming audible.

They started out with the leak of the internal polling which rained on the Colmar Brunton poll, giving it 46 per cent support while in reality it was at just 41.

An MP, either acting alone or with the knowledge of others, is undermining Bridges by using a burner phone, not taking any chances with the internal phone records of MPs inspected during the Jami-Lee Ross probe.

The number can't be traced and since the texting started the number's changed.

But the internal poll figures have checked out and so too have other claims made - which could only have come from a caucus member.

They talked of an email sent by the leadership to MPs the night before this week's caucus, telling them how to respond to media inquiries about bullying emphasising the "strong culture" in National and that "people like coming to work" for the party and that Parliament's a robust place.

The next morning Paula Bennett talked to reporters before her leader, which she's taken to doing of late, and had the phrases off pat.

A short time later Bridges sounded like a cracked record repeating them ad nauseam.

The MP feeding the information's going to a lot of trouble, texting with a third burner number, giving an insight into what went on in this week's caucus.

How Maggie Barry, who's being besieged with bullying accusations, stood up and thanked her colleagues for their support, greeted by a stunned silence.

Her colleagues remember her outburst in October, castigating Jami-Lee Ross for his behaviour towards his staff.

The texter said they were bracing for more accusations against Barry, and they came.

It's unlikely this texter's acting alone.

It's clearly a campaign to undermine National's leadership team and the strain is beginning to show.

When Parliament rises for the Christmas break in two weeks' time there'll be keen interest in who's invited to what barbeque but one thing is for sure, early next year they'll be burning Bridges.

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