The Soap Box: If Simon Bridges fails, at least he's tried

Author
Newstalk ZB Staff,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Jul 2018, 5:25AM
Simon Bridges has been travelling the length and breadth of the country trying to make an impression. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Simon Bridges has been travelling the length and breadth of the country trying to make an impression. (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Soap Box: If Simon Bridges fails, at least he's tried

Author
Newstalk ZB Staff,
Publish Date
Tue, 17 Jul 2018, 5:25AM

You can say plenty of things about National's leader Simon Bridges and plenty of people have. Of the aspirants for the party's top job, Bridges was probably the least known but was considered shrewd. He didn't blot his copy book like Amy Adams and turn up to his leadership announcement with hangers on, hoping for a prominent place in her line up.

But he didn't hold it against them either.    

His own biggest problem though is prominence. He's not well known by the electorate, and with the last opinion poll putting him at nine per cent, he knows he has cause for worry. At the same time in his leadership, John Key was polling at 24 per cent and Bill English was at 25.

So there was only one thing for it: to get his mug out to the masses.

By Saturday, he will have held 66 public meetings through the length and breadth of the country since May.

No one can argue that he's work shy, even if a number of the meetings were at inconvenient times in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

While he's been putting himself out there glad-handing, he's also become a social media warrior, hitting all the platforms, some of the time telling us stuff that we don't really need to know, like how good he is at changing nappies or how obsessive he is with the laundry. Still, it's a step up from English's pizzas.

Since Jacinda Ardern's been on maternity leave, the cut and thrust of Parliament's bear pit's become something of a training ground for him, pitted against Winston Peters who obviously finds him less offensive than the two former National leaders.  

The only thing Peters has got against him is that Bridges beat him resoundingly in Tauranga in 2008, which thanks to Key, saw New Zealand First out of Parliament for the next three years.

But when Bridges takes on the wily old fox, he'd do well to steer clear of the lair which he fell into recently when he asked Peters whether he agreed with David Parker's view that business opinion surveys are junk.   Peters shot back quoting an IMF report, quite removed from surveys in this country he reminded him, but praising the economy.

Going in for the kill, Peters said the main author of the report was one of John Key's former economic advisors! So the acting Prime Minister declared, yes he did agree with Parker's wise comment.

Stand up more slowly, be more careful and try to be a gentleman, was Peters parting shot in the clash.

But it's away from Parliament that Bridges really needs to make his mark and if he can't make it there, his 55 National colleagues will become restless.   But at least they won't be able to say he hasn't put in the hard yards.