The Soap Box: Bridges' leadership irreparably damaged

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 18 October 2018, 6:32a.m.
National Party leader Simon Bridges.
National Party leader Simon Bridges.

COMMENT:

Simon Bridges' leadership of the National Party is irreparably damaged.

This is not just about an MP going rogue, it's about buying influence and it's about the candid views of a leader that will inevitably impact on his ability to maintain authority.

Bridges believes Jami-Lee Ross has been recording their telephone conversations for months, pity for him he didn't realise that before now.

You'd have to say, even though the pair claims they were once close buddies, their telephone conversations were more than a little stilted with Ross sounding as though he was conducting an interview, which unbeknown to Bridges that's exactly what he was doing.

If a buddy was having a yarn over the phone to me in that way, making wooden statements to elicit a response, you'd have to be suspicious, surely even more so if you were a former Crown prosecutor.

But Bridges blissfully blathered away about the hundred grand donation and how he wanted to use it for attack ads, not realising that's exactly what it was going to be used for - by Ross against him.

No-one has yet explained why this donation wasn't declared within 10 days as it was required to be under the Electoral Act.

It was apparently broken down into seven fourteen grand donations, with another two grand thrown in, allegedly using some names that haven't been able to be traced through the electoral register.

The legality of that is now for the cops to ferret out.

It's the morality of the donation and why it was made that's potentially the smoking gun for the leader - and should send shivers up the spine of the electorate.

The main donor's a rich Chinese construction company boss and at a dinner with Bridges and Ross they were told he'd like a second Chinese MP.

It just so happens the donor's manager had put his name up as a candidate.

Bridges tells Ross it's bloody hard, there's only so much space, and it depends where they're polling but admits two Chinese MPs would be nice.

Ross tells him that two Chinese would be more valuable that two Indians, to which Bridges observes that's what they've currently got.

To even discuss getting an MP into Parliament on the back of a donation is morally reprehensible, suggesting a seat in Parliament can be bought.

They go on to discuss how MPs are expected to move on, with Bridges describing West Coast list MP Maureen Pugh as "f***ing useless" which he profusely apologised for, presumably after hearing himself on the tape.

That whole exchange, culminating in his view of Pugh, is the gun that'll soon be smoking.

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