MUST READ: The Making Of A National Party Leader


THERE IS AN AIR OF UNREALITY about the leadership struggles within political parties. It’s as if all the journalists and commentators have entered into an unspoken agreement not to draw too much attention to the fundamental opaqueness of the process. Instead, the public is treated to a wealth of irrelevant information about the various contenders. When and where they were born; who they married; what they like to do in their spare time: as if any of these details matter.

Unmentioned and unexamined are the pivotal, career-consolidating decisions that these candidates have made on their way to the top. What did they do to demonstrate the seriousness of their intent to become more than bit-players in the big political dramas of their day. Who are the former enemies with whom they were secretly reconciled? And who were the former friends and allies they betrayed in the process?

These are the only details that truly matter: the information that only those close to the political action can reveal; the stuff that the public almost never gets to hear about. Long-retired politicians may write about it in their memoirs, but by then the dirty deals laid bare are so far in the past that almost nobody – excepting family, friends and the odd political historian – gives a damn.

Oddly, most people who pay attention to politics know that this is the way that political leaders have always behaved. It’s the reason why television series like House of Cards and Borgen are so popular. They allow us to view the behind-the-scenes events that go unreported in the news media. Indeed, much of the dramatic action in these series turns on the huge discrepancy between what the leading characters say to the media and what they say to each other.

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When Francis Underwood makes his direct asides to the viewers in House of Cards the effect is always electrifying. Instead of being mere spectators, they suddenly become the hero’s trusted co-conspirators. For just a few seconds they get to experience what it is like to be inside the action: to feel the adrenalin-rush that comes from wielding raw political power; to be liberated from the pettiness and insignificance of the “ordinary” citizen’s highly circumscribed existence.

The National Party’s new leader, for example, was being promoted as one of the people to watch more than 15 years ago – long before he wrenched the Tauranga electorate from Winston Peters’ grasp in 2008. The decisions made by Simon Bridges in those crucial years before he entered Parliament will, undoubtedly, have played a role in the way the votes were cast in the National Party caucus-room on Tuesday morning. Loyalties in politics tend to be a long time in the making: leaders get back only what they have given.

What has Bridges given? Far more than we will ever be permitted to know.

One of his more notable public gifts, however, was the legal expertise he deployed in the framing of the legislation prohibiting seaborne protests aimed at impeding oil exploration in New Zealand’s territorial waters.

That expertise was a long time in the making. Bridges learned the lawyer’s trade here in New Zealand, at Auckland’s Law School, and then among the dreaming spires of Oxford University. In the course of his training, Bridges studied not only how the legal system works, but also what the Rule of Law is intended to protect. As a keen student of history, he must have known, even as he proscribed them, how important the rights of the citizen have always been to the proper functioning of a democratic state.

That Bridges was willing, coolly and efficiently, to curtail New Zealanders’ protest rights, would not have gone unnoticed by his political patrons (among whom were John Key and Steven Joyce). They had set him a test – and he had passed it with flying colours. In order for Bridges to become a successful statesman, his political peers needed to be convinced he had it in him to put his most cherished ideals to the sword without flinching.

That, too, would have been a factor in Simon Bridges’ successful campaign to become the National Party’s twelfth leader.

It is one thing to have the accent of a “petrol head” from West Auckland: more important by far, however, is how well a leader of the National Party is able to speak the language of power. That New Zealanders know much more about the former than the latter is proof of just how little political reality they are expected to bear.



  1. Enlightening reading @ CT.

    But it makes me wonder why such a slithery, ( And no disrespect to wee beasties who must slither. ) character with such a high powered education and with a grasp of working class lingo should be so propelled into ‘power’ by , in my view, two worthless crooks?
    Why? There’s only 4.7 million of us and of that, about 2.5 mil can vote? ( Is that correct?)
    That’s like peter jackson now having to make a living shooting wedding videos.
    Nothing makes sense… Or, perhaps not to you, nor you there. But to me it does.
    Firstly, bury The Great Lie then broker our country’s sovereignty to the highest, high rollers. Do we then become the servant class to billionaire and trillionare climate change refugees? With just enough poverty here to have them feeling smug and superior?
    Peters lost to bridges? Peters threw the election to help elevate bridges to where he is now, surely? ( I know. Skeptical in the extreme but fuck it. If we’re to survive the coming few years we must keep a wide open mind. )

  2. bridges is filling in till the old boag can head hunt another key clone from New York. in the interim we have to put up with his mealy mouthed prattle.

  3. Simon Bridges impersonates the very hypocrisy and lies that National stands for, they are EVIL people, who promote every person that will do all to destroy the social fabric of this society, so the elite can rule and run the show as they please.

    Bridges is their present prime mercenary, ready to do anything, to attack Jacinda and Labour and NZ First and Greens, he has no scruples and will use every opportunity to attack, while his lot are the greatest liars and back stabbers in the game.

    • “Bridges is their present prime mercenary, ready to do anything, to attack Jacinda and Labour and NZ First and Greens, he has no scruples and will use every opportunity to attack, while his lot are the greatest liars and back stabbers in the game.”

      Amen, it’s like I’d written this myself!

  4. In other words, Mr Trotter , … you are essentially saying Simon Bridges is ruthless. Ruthless enough to bury ones values , ethics and sense of conscience in order to advance ones career at the expense of thousands of New Zealanders now and in the future…

    That could well be the case…


    I have spent all of today , ( some days I have that privilege of time …) on the laptop , reading about ,…

    Stutthof trials – Wikipedia

    The effects of hanging and the various techniques used , and also the Babi Yar massacre…. and the Sonderkommandos

    Babi Yar – Wikipedia

    Along with many other related topics of that era.

    That appalling era.

    And when I read something , I do not just read one site and that’s it… I cross reference it , and follow other links as well , and believe me when I say , … I am sparing people much of the graphic details ,…

    Because its sickening.

    After a day of reading about all this sort of evil , and how sordid and degrading it all is,… it makes me feel quite unclean. And , – with the sad feeling that this is what human beings are easily capable of being.

    It is repulsive.

    And when you view the old black and white photos and look into the eyes of all those little children ( tens of thousands of them ) that were selected along with their mothers to walk to the gas chambers after being deceived and bullied and terrified by the SS,… the revulsion , contempt and anger simply grows for their captors…

    And it is a constant reminder for vigilance.

    And to be honest ? I have had a gutsful up to my back teeth of dishonest , ruthless , viscous , individuals and organizations in the past and present here in New Zealand and overseas that commit deliberate acts that they know will cause mass suffering to others to enable their own agendas or assuage their own twisted sadistic appetites , – usually cloaked in a form of self righteous ‘ morality ‘ to justify their own malignant evil..

    These types think they live forever and have no fear of consequences,… no remorse , no pity , they are cold ,inhuman , callous…

    I am sick of them and the influence they manage to wield over others , – when they really should be locked up and receiving treatment for their illness…

    And so to be vigilant we must be informed , … and in order to see the reasons for that vigilance , this is why I constantly direct people to read, – and not just read but also thoroughly understand , – the recent historical political and economic facts for themselves , and in this case , – the origins and the ideological perpetrators of the neo liberal takeover of New Zealand in 1984 , and those that would now seek to perpetuate it.

    ( Coincidentally , and alarmingly , upon reading this you will also see a direct correlation with the names of these old -wealth European ‘noble’ family’s , their not so secret ‘society’s’ and ‘guilds’ like the Thule Society and what they believed in – and their consequent facilitation and financing of the very organisations (such as the NSDAP) that led directly to the Second World War , particularly with regards to individuals like Max von Thurn und Taxis , his family and others of their ilk ).

    New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

    It is like rubbing the noses of these evildoers in their own shit every time another person has had their eyes opened and sees them exposed for what they are . Yet it would appear that Simon Bridges at some point might just have started to align with their thinking …

    I should sincerely hope not…

  5. Boag headhunting worldwide for a new long term National Party Leader, Bridges is just an interim Caretaker Leader ?

  6. And in other news, Fletcher Tabuteau demonstrates how flexible his principles are in the quest for power.

    • Now that’s a story I would like to read about. NZ First always comes across to me as quite opaque.

      Some of its people are good value. I miss Brian Donnelly, for example. Several of the others, though, come across as stuffed toys on their parliamentary seats. Tasteful, perhaps even cute, yet they seem to offer very little.

      And what’s happening with Ron Mark, the man who actually visits with the rank and file military, unlike his beaming predecessor? Unless there are lees in the bottle Ron seems to be a hardworking and straight talking bloke (possibly with a large smidge more ‘Maori blood’ than Bridges.)

  7. The ‘national’ party… Even their name is a bare faced lie. The word ‘national’ is defined as: of or for a nation as a whole, which the national party never has been or ever will be, representing as they do only a small elite of vested interests. The majority of supporters who vote for them are the greedy gullible wannabees who aspire to be part of that elite but if they were to stand back and take a critical look at how that has served them they would find that they are treated as sheep to the slaughter in the same way as everybody else… Sad really
    This is why I refer to them as the criminal cabal of liars, fraudsters, thieves and traitors formerly known as the national party…

  8. I think Bridges might be the cutting edge needed to slice and dice this Labour led coalition.

    It’s obvious where the cracks are in the coalition so I expect he will drive his intellectual blade into those crevices and tear it apart. You didn’t mention his ten years as a Crown Prosecutor…

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