National Party leadership: Richard Prebble – can Simon Bridges save National?

OPINION:

While we are stuck at the Covid traffic lights, National and Labour have done a deal to destroy the neighbourhood.

Your neighbour can knock down his villa and erect three East German-like three-storey tower blocks. It is the end of our garden suburbs.

National, once the party promoting a “property-owning democracy” is now the party doing deals to destroy property owners.

In February 2018, Judith Collins told this paper “let me set that mark”.

A leader has to go “once things start getting under 35 per cent”.

Now she says; “I do not take any notice of polls”. She should. National is polling behind Act in Auckland and rural New Zealand. My former political studies professor, Bob Chapman, used to say “political parties go to the South Island to die”.

This central planning edict was not in the manifesto of either party. Collins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should both lose their seats. Act, which is opposed to a fiat over riding local planning, will take the cities.

Every National MP, including the hapless Todd Muller, now regrets their leadership coup.

Simon Bridges’ press conference that triggered the coup looks prophetic. He warned the country could not be put in indefinite lockdowns.

Bridges was also prophetic when he cautioned that the explosive growth in gang numbers was a threat to civil society. It is Covid amongst the gangs and their associates that has caused elimination to fail.

Bridges is reluctant to trigger yet another leadership change. He watched National’s election lead vanish in the pandemic. His recently published biography, National Identity, was not written as a leadership manifesto but an exploration of what it means to be a Kiwi.

I had not realised the parallels in our careers. I do not want to overstate it. Simon was head boy. No school would ever have made me a prefect.

Our fathers were parsons with six children. We attended Auckland working class primary schools. We are trial lawyers. We joined a political party before we could vote. We were youth vice president. We are former ministers of transport and former leaders. We are both mocked for our strong Kiwi accent.

Perhaps this is why I strongly agree with his chapter deploring the collapse in standards in our state schools. There is a growing gap in NCEA results between private schools and even the best state schools. At the worst state schools, nostudent passes NCEA level 3.

Simon Bridges believes the education gap is creating a class society.

Labour has removed the education ladder that we climbed.

Simon Bridges says he is a politician who happens to be a Christian and a Māori. He does not seek to impose his beliefs. His decision to learn te reo is personal.

Bridges underestimates the power of his back story. He is comfortable acknowledging both his Maori and his English heritage. He points out that like him; half of all Maori choose to be on the General roll.

Labour and the Greens have an identity agenda. Those parties divide us by factors we cannot change; our race, our age and our gender.

National has always claimed to be the party for all New Zealanders.

Being Māori, Simon can speak out against identity politics. While the left will try, he cannot be cancelled.

As a lawyer he can also oppose the Government’s radical Treaty policies. Neither Governor Hobson nor the chiefs would recognise today’s Treaty agenda.

It is impossible for the Crown to be in partnership with some of the population to govern the rest. Labour’s Treaty policies are the reason the Government after four years has achieved no planning reform. This failure has resulted in the desperate proposal to permit three mini tower blocks per section.

Simon Bridges can credibly oppose this nonsense.

If Bridges does not act there will be no party for him to save. Political parties do not last forever. The once mighty Liberal party is no more.

National’s woes are much greater than just Judith Collins. National used to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Now National promises both tax cuts and more spending.

There is no word in Simon’s book on economics. It is an omission he needs to remedy fast. What the economy needs is not more subsidies but for the country to be open again.

The last election was, in Ardern’s words, “the Covid election”. Covid won Labour the last election and Covid will loseitthe next.

Labour has abdicated Covid policy making. Theageing hippies who say they will never vaccinate are lovely people but no one voted for them to determine when the Covid traffic lights change.

The only thing sillier than putting the anti-vax brigade in charge of Covid policy is to concrete over our garden suburbs.

– Richard Prebble is a former leader of the Act Party and former member of the Labour Party.

Source: Read Full Article