COMMENT: I feel bad for Simon Bridges.
I can't help myself. I have a thing about underdogs, and he feels like an underdog at the moment.
He's certainly under fire. A leak of his travel expenses - a right royal political whodunnit, potential forensic examinations by Speaker Trevor Mallard, both Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern saying it's nothing to do with them or their parties - and then, allegations the leak could be from within his own party.
If it is internal, then more important than who leaked it is why.
Actually who leaked it will also answer the why part for us.
But here's where I feel bad for Bridges.
He has come and said he's so confident it's no one from within his own party, that he's keen to launch his own independent inquiry into it. Ouch. I hope he's sure. Because this potentially gets really ugly.
I was one of the naysayers on day one, who said he was not the right choice for leader.
I thought he was too inexperienced, too unknown, too bland, too blah. But he got the job and he hit the ground running, trying hard to make himself known, make himself visible, (albeit in a costly way as we now learn re the Crown limo expenses) and he's continued to lead the party at a good polling level.
Staying at 45 per cent in opposition is nothing to be sneezed at: National's still the most popular party in the country.
So why then why would someone, within National, do such a thing? Simon Bridges must be thinking the same thing" it's not possible.
But isn't it? Perhaps there are disgruntled members of his own party who believe rolling the leader would be a good move. If that's the case, they're misguided.
Because the very worst thing the party can do right now is start rumblings over leadership.
Our appetite for internal bickering is limited. Voters don't appreciate in-fighting. We like to believe the illusion that politicians are there to serve for the greater good.
We don't like to be reminded that it's a big power trip exercise.
So I feel for Simon Bridges, because apart from hauling his arse around the country in the backseat of a BMW shaking hands with everyone who looked his way, (which must have been tiresome), he's come home to find his efforts undercut.
I can't help thinking at this point though, the person who did the leaking (and we will eventually know who) looks worse than Bridges himself.