Appeasing the Unappeasable
On his first day as National Party leader, when confronted by a media inquisition, Bridges recanted his stance on gay "marriage". Hang on a minute: he wasn't actually asked about it. He just volunteered that information out of the blue. This is what Simon Bridges said when has was asked about his biggest regrets:
Take gay marriage, now I understand the depth of feeling around those issues, would I change [the current law]? No I wouldn't. Would I go back and change my vote, yes I probably would.
Simon openly professes to be a Christian, so this either makes him a liar, if he's saying one thing while he believes another, or a heretic, if he is denying a basic teaching of Christianity, namely that marriage is between a man and a woman. This should be unnerving for anyone, regardless of their views on these issues, because while you don't always need to agree with someone, you do expect them to be honest and act in accordance with their principles.
This has become an initiation ritual for new National leaders, as Bill English did the same, and even Australia's new National Party leader Michael McCormack had to recant an article he wrote against homosexuality in 1993. I would suggest that selling your soul for power is not something that earns you much respect. Simon Bridges seems to be mirroring Bill English's early days as leader, and this give me no expectation that he will ever be Prime Minister.
If you're worried that I'm focusing on a single issue that is irrelevant to you, have no fear, for the appeasement runs deep with this one. Let's take a look at some more Simon Says quotes:
I don't think it's about left or right, per se. I don't think we did lurch to the left as some have said.
– SImon Bridges, on the economy
I think they need to see our green credentials better.
– Simon Bridges, on the environment
I hope Maori who have traditionally been with New Zealand First at times, with Labour, will give us a second look, will think about us and what we mean and the opportunities that we present for Maori.
Can Simon offer enough bribes, concessions, and apologies to appease gays, lefties, greenies, and tribes in time for 2020?
Simon has made it clear that he will not be making any big changes and will just be following the status quo set by John Key and Bill English. He's indicated that his new direction will be a shadow-cabinet "reshuffle", getting "fresh ideas" rolling, and a proposal to work with the Greens if they focused on the environment rather than "bits and bobs". Sounds like riveting stuff to me.
Simon describes himself as a "compassionate conservative", which so far looks to be code for "I'm a leftie who doesn't like booze and weed."
When commenting on the National leadership candidates, Alex Eastwood-Williams said that Simon Bridges has a "reputation for incompetence" and "very little to offer", and in response I would joke that these statements seem to sum up the current National Party caucus and policy. In the preferred leader poll, Simon Bridges ranked dead last among National voters.
I would not expect to see any kind of bounce in the polls for National as they seek to chase the ever elusive "centre vote."
I will temper my remarks with one condition, if the Coalition government comes apart at the seams in the next two years, then like Prime Minister Ardern, a Prime Minister Bridges will become a remote possibility, but only as an accident of history.