25 Nov 2021

National Party leadership trouble 'destructive' - commentator

From Morning Report, 8:12 am on 25 November 2021

A political commentator says the events in the National Party over the last 12 hours have been "destructive".

National's leader Judith Collins has demoted Simon Bridges to the backbenches after alleged inappropriate comments made several years ago to Waitaki MP Jacqui Deans.

The shock news came in a media release from Collins on Wednesday night and is after much speculation that Bridges is considering a tilt at the top job.

Bridges will hold a full media conference later today but told media as he arrived at Parliament this morning that the move by Collins was "desperate".

Political commentator and former senior ministerial advisor for the previous National-led government Brigitte Morten told Morning Report the way events played out was not ideal.

"I don't think there could be a more destructive way to turn destroy the party from the inside out, undermining the caucus, undermining the board, 10pm press releases with little detail, I don't think you could really have done this any worse."

Morton said the events would be a smear on Bridges' reputation and could make him retaking the leadership difficult.

But it could provide room for somebody else in the party to take the role and Bridges to take a spot high on the party list.

She said it's not looking good for Collins though.

"With the actions of Judith Collins over the last 24 hours, this doesn't look like you know, she's got the support of the caucus, or that she's got the trust of the caucus. That's really important for anyone in a leadership position, whether it is the actual leader or within that sort of top 10.

"So, I think for her, she will have to make a serious decision about actually whether or not she can continue in politics, and whether or not that is actually in the best interest of the party.

"Everyone who is a National Party supporter or on the centre right, or wanting an opposition, wants to think that the opposition party members are there to do the best for the opposition for the party, not for themselves."