It's got to be Bridges. Has to be, must be, because then I can enjoy a told-you-so moment and we can all sit back and enjoy the show.

On January 20, the Herald published my annual survey of the coming year in satire. I wrote, "One of the tests of an Opposition is to make a government look laughable. I'd be mighty grateful for any assistance in this regard from National, though I don't know if slow-thinking Bill English would be much help.

"Simon Bridges, though, has already achieved that goal, when he famously had Labour MPs running headless and clueless within seconds of the swearing-in ceremony. I hope he becomes National's next leader. I've always liked his company. The Leader of the Opposition ought to operate as satirist-in-chief, and Bridges is sharp, prosecutorial, and very funny."

We first met at a literary function in Tauranga. Literary functions can bring out ministers and MPs in a rash, and it's easy to see why: many literary functions are unbearable. They're a little bonfire of the vanities, a lot of people standing around thinking they're better than everyone else - better, certainly, than ministers and MPs, who are routinely thought of as barbarians.


Two former arts ministers, Chris Finlayson and Maggie Barry, attended these kinds of functions under duress. Barry did her best to grin and bear it; the effort brought out dark rings under her eyes. Finlayson didn't even bother with the niceties. But Bridges sailed into the room in Tauranga with a big smile on his face. He was completely at ease, and didn't give a monkey's when the occasional guest tried giving him the liberal death stare.

He was the same likeable, loose goose whenever I've run into him at various events - at Parliament, a National Party conference, a press conference in the rain. He's just a very impressive guy. You never really knew if English was in the same room. He could be onstage and you'd forget he was there. Bridges has presence.

It's all there in that great photo of him on that famous first day of Parliament after the election. Bridges is in the middle of the action, the centre of the storm; Labour lapdogs are whining at his feet, and National accomplices are experiencing that rarest of emotions in opposition - joy.

He's taken on a gravitas over the years. When he entered Parliament in 2008, he looked like the head boy from some Year 13 class. Ten years on, heavier in the face, his hair piled high, his resting face is saturnine. He has things on his mind. Did he take English aside, and make him an offer he couldn't refuse? He looks a lot like Silvio, the persuasive thug from The Sopranos.

More than anyone at National, he has the power and the wit to - sorry about employing the worst phrase in modern English usage - change the narrative. As satirist-in-chief, he'll mock the government out of office. Let the laughs begin.