Dompost editorial scathing of Bridges

Journalists don’t like witch hunts for their sources, because that is what Simon Bridges has been doing in trying to find National’s dirty little leaker.

Consequently, after his rather weak approach this week they have unloaded on him with a river of bad news that must be making his backbench squeamish.

The Dompost editorial was one particularly scathing editorial: Quote:

The news that Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is to take?several months of leave?for an unspecified health issue has been?greeted with maturity and discretion by almost everyone except his?boss, Opposition leader Simon Bridges.?

Bridges made all the right noises during the initial announcement to media. He talked of “a private and personal health issue”, about the importance of Ross’ wellbeing and his young family, and the willingness of Bridges and his caucus to provide all the support they can.

So far?so good. Bridges sounded like any other enlightened 21st century boss who speaks the jargon of work-life balance and knows about setting?a good example in the workplace. But then he blew it by describing Ross’ issues?as “embarrassing”. He used that word not once, not twice, but three times.??End quote.

That was deliberate. Bridges and especially Paula Bennett are trying to spread rumours. It will backfire, and seems to have backfired. Quote:

This is baffling when you compare it to the sensitivity displayed during?two other recent examples of MPs taking time out. When Dunedin South MP Clare Curran resigned from her ministerial portfolios last month, she talked of “relentless pressure” that became “intolerable”. Two years ago, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye took time off for breast cancer treatment and?acknowledged then Prime Minister John Key?as “an incredible rock” during a difficult period.

Will Ross say the same thing about Bridges???End quote.

I doubt it. Quote:

An opportunity for Bridges to look classy and statesmanlike turned instead into a political shambles. Bridges has been trying to portray?Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a “weak” leader in charge of a dysfunctional Government, but his poor example of leadership this week makes those criticisms hard to sustain. Empathy and sensitivity are displays of strength rather than weakness.

Bridges did seem to recognise he had made a gaffe when he said that “embarrassing” was a poor choice of word. But the damage was done. Broadcasters Duncan Garner and Mike Hosking both focused on Bridges’ mistake rather than Ross’ situation. A neutral story rapidly evolved into a negative one.??End quote.

And no one to blame but himself. Quote:

On its own, it may not matter but it contributes to a wider impression of failure. Bridges was also compelled to explain that Ross’ decision was “unrelated” to an ongoing investigation into leaking. He must surely regret the decision to launch an inquiry into the leak of his travel costs?to the media. The revealed?costs were not enormous and the leak happened only days before the information?was due to be officially released. Knowing that?the Opposition possibly has at least one well-placed person who is determined to destabilise a new leader is far more damaging to the party than the travel expenses themselves.??End quote.

Add to that Bridges moribund and flatlined favourables. Other party polling shows this, National’s polling must show it too. The party remains high, but Bridges has traveled the country and met thousands and still, his numbers are subterranean. Sensible reporters will start asking senior Nats about their polling. The silence will be deafening. Quote:

In his own, brief statement, Ross said merely that the health issues were “personal”. National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett added the word “traumatic” to the words already used by her leader, which again could increase public speculation and curiosity.

Bennett also stressed that there is no link with the leak inquiry, but it is inevitable that some have made?a connection. Last month a person who claimed to be the leaker?reportedly told Bridges that they had a “long and serious mental health issue” that would be worsened by public disclosure. It is hardly surprising that some were reminded of that detail when?they learned of Ross’ announcement.

For now, Ross has public sympathy on his side and the media has also kept a respectful distance. Bridges, on the other hand, looks like a man who knows his days as leader are numbered. End quote.

Ouch. I’m not aware of any move, but there will be rumblings if the media are talking that way.