Bye bye Bridges | The Jackal

23 May 2020

Bye bye Bridges

Let’s be honest; Simon Bridges was a disaster of a political leader. If he wasn’t attempting to criticise the Government’s perfectly good policy initiatives that the public generally supported, he was fudging his lines after getting caught out in yet another lie. When Jami-Lee Ross said Bridges “is a flawed individual without a moral compass,” he wasn’t wrong.

In reality, losing the leadership is likely a weight off Simon Bridges’ shoulders. For starters, he no longer needs to practice his victory speech in front of the mirror every morning. He can now, according to the spin, simply spend more time with his family. You've got to wonder though, if family is so important, why didn't Bridges stay at home with his family during lockdown? Instead he repeatedly broke the rules by driving from Tauranga to Wellington every day just for an Internet connection.

So can the National Party actually claw back any of the support they’ve lost under Bridges? Let’s face it, 29% is National on life support. Of course there’s the 2-3% racist vote that's still up for grabs, which may give them a slight boost now that Bridges is relegated to obscurity. However the New Conservatives and Act Party likely have that demographic wrapped up. It would be highly risky for Muller to openly court any unhinged minority votes like National used to in the bad old days of Don Brash.

But it’s not just how the public currently perceives the National Party that’s an issue. One major problem for the blue “team” is that it’s doubtful Muller has the respect of the entire National Party caucus. According to reports, only 52% voted for him to become their leader, meaning that Muller will have his work cut out to keep around half of his caucus colleges onside, many of which will be gone-burgers if National fails to climb in the polls.

Of course the mainstream media is already singing Muller's praises, but I’m really not sure why? There’s just not much to talk about. Muller is another nondescript conservative white male who most people couldn’t pick out in a line up. So he’s a practicing catholic, but so was Bill English, who in 2002 led his party to its worst electoral defeat ever.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

National's new leader: Who is Todd Muller, the MP who defeated Simon Bridges 

He worked in the office of then-Prime Minister Jim Bolger in the early to mid-1990s. Muller was his executive assistant during his second term, when Bolger was rolled by Jenny Shipley. 
After he left Parliament as Bolger's staffer, Muller moved into the private sector. 
He worked for Zespri in the early 2000s, before moving to kiwifruit and avocado company Apata in 2006, where he was chief executive. 
In 2011, Muller move to Auckland to work at Fonterra, where he worked his way up to group director of co-operative affairs.

Of course the right wing will proclaim that Muller is better because he has business experience. The problem is he cannot contain his partiality. I mean if picking a public fight with Te Papa because they dared to have an exhibit showing that farm runoff was an environmental problem doesn’t display bias, I don’t know what will? Muller’s proclivity to ignore environmental science is perhaps his biggest flaw, especially as climate change will once again be a hot topic in the lead up to the election.

Todd Muller photographed beside his MAGA hat.

It’s also doubtful that National will be able to gain the moral high ground from a Coalition Government that’s doing nearly everything right. Muller can claim that he wants to differentiate from previous oppositions until he’s blue in the face, but the practicalities of carrying out this boast are questionable. He can have the biased mainstream media’s undeserved approval, but without anything to really set him apart all the propaganda in the world isn't going to mean much at all.

Certain right wing pundits as well as Muller himself have claimed that a leadership change will somehow give National a fighting chance in the 2020 election. Obviously this is a highly farcical claim. What they don’t understand is most voters will see Muller as just a different head to the same monster. Maori in particular, who bore the brunt of National’s austerity measures haven’t forgotten or forgiven a party that clearly still doesn’t represent all New Zealanders.

So voters really only have a couple of choices this election: Re-elect a Coalition Government that puts the health and wellbeing of the people first with a proven economic track record in managing New Zealand through multiple crisis…or vote for a political party that couldn’t even get the Christchurch rebuild right and will once again increase homelessness and inequality if elected. A change in their leader really makes no difference to what the National Party actually stands for.