This week should have been Simon Bridges'.

But going into Parliament's bear pit today he could be forgiven for feeling jinxed.

His first annual conference as leader should have seen him walking away, basking in the glory of the adoring party. Instead he's flapping his arms around, shouting what about me?


He's becoming the invisible man and it's not for the want of trying, but he's failed to cause a blip on the radar for what should have been his crowning glory.

His senior front bench colleague Amy Adams will also being feeling a little miffed after presenting figures to the National Party faithful purporting to show this country has the second lowest business confidence rating in the world.

It was John Key who stole their thunder, talking about the international economic jitters saying their spluttering fortunes could impact on this country, and if it does, then the current crop in the Beehive are the wrong parties to set it right. It was the first time Key has attended the conference since suddenly calling it quits in 2016 but the party's still seen by many as his.

The only thing Bridges could come up with during his time to shine, delivering his annual address was a promise to reduce class sizes in our schools, something National did the exact opposite of six years ago when Hekia Parata was in the hot education seat before she was slapped down by Key. Bridges also banged on about more charter schools which will at least will be a flicker of light for the twitching Act corpse whose idea the schools were in the first place.

The hardest news from the conference came from Mark Mitchell's old idea of banning gang patches from being worn in public, an idea implemented by a former New Zealand First MP Michael Laws when he was Mayor of Whanganui but ended up successfully being appealed.

Mitchell's argument was that to earn a patch a gang member has to commit an act of violence, so why should they be able to intimidate the public by wearing their badge of honour? The police already have the power to remove gang patches in certain places anyway.

But numerous studies show that banning patches doesn't make one iota of difference to gang membership and what they get up to.

Still Mitchell, a former aspirant for the National leadership, scored the publicity hit that Bridges could only envy. And that led the muck-raking Winston Peters, in his final week as acting Prime Minister, to observe that the jackals are beginning to circle.


The smell of Bridges was all too much for Jacinda Ardern to stomach, she added to his recognition woes by posting another "multi tasking" rambling video, rocking baby Neve with one foot, panning to the stack papers she had to read, and telling us she was ready to come back to work.

As for Bridges, well, he had his chance.