Simon Bridges declares himself a man of no intentions on rolling Judith Collins

OPINION:

After hunkering down in Tauranga while speculation mounted about his intentions, Simon Bridges was back at Parliament.

Bridges stood on Parliament’s forecourt, the wind whipping his flowing hair, and declared to the cameras that he had no intention.

To be precise, Bridges declared he had no intention of seeking the leadership of the National Party.

Of course, there is a difference between seeking and finding.

When Bridges was asked whether he’d take the leadership if he came across it without having to do the “seeking”, he replied again that it was not his intention to seek it.

To translate, in this instance “seeking” means the hustle and blood-letting that comes with mounting a full-throated challenge against an incumbent.

He doesn’t want a messy contest, he wants a landslide. He wants other MPs to have the intentions for him.

He wants it be clear he has taken the leadership with a very clear mandate from those MPs.

In the unlikely event he was hoping Collins would help out in that regard, Bridges was disabused.

Judith didn’t bother faffing around with ambiguous words. Asked if she would resign, Collins said “no.”Not even if National’s polling fell below the 20 per cent mark? “No.” Not ever? “No.”

Never.

It was a moment of pure Churchillian gloriousness.She will fight them in the double digits, she will fight them in the single digits.

If they want her gone, they’ll have to take her down.

Collins found at least one ally in Maureen Pugh, the MP for whom Bridges once delivered an unflattering two-word performance review.

Pugh insisted everything was being made up, everyone was lying. Everybody loved Judith.

But for Collins the polls, alas, have not been allies in this last stand.

Two lockdown polls showed National slipping further from what the MPs had thought was rock bottom – all the way down to a miserable 21 per cent in the Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll.

Collins claimed that was all the polling companies’ fault for having the gall to poll during a lockdown.

Whatever the reason for her woes, Collins 2021 was clearly rejecting the advice of Judith Collins 2018 who said anything below 35 per cent meant you could not win and it was incumbent on a leader to sack themselves at that point.

That 2018 Judith Collins went on, presciently, to say caucus unity depended on the polls:

“”What you do is you show by results. If you can deliver in the polls, then you can deliver for that particular caucus. And if you deliver, strangely enough, you get there.”

That may well explain why Bridges does not feel he has any need to seek what he clearly desires.

Nor were Labour taken in by his proclaimed lack of intention.They reached for the Bible.

When Speaker Trevor Mallard clocked Bridges’ flowing hair in Parliament, he called Bridges “Samson”.

“More like Lazarus,” Grant Robertson said.

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