COMMENT:

Poor old Simon Bridges finds himself immersed in yet another leadership scrap.

It was reported at the weekend that he had been at regional conferences and talked of discipline and unity as being the only way National could win the election.

The suggestion was made that he would be raising this in this morning's caucus meeting.

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He later denied the talk.

This is the rock and a hard place sort of situation he constantly finds himself in these days. He pretends there isn't trouble, and then busies himself explaining how there can't be trouble, won't be trouble, hasn't been trouble, trouble has no place at
his place.

He explains so much, you're left thinking, "boy, he's got trouble."

He might like to take a leaf out of Bill Shorten's book, if not Jeremy Corbyn's book. Both are hopelessly disliked leaders and yet both stand very real, in Shorten's case highly probable, chances of becoming Prime Ministers.

And the advantage Bridges does have, which to his credit he does bang on about, is the fact his party is popular. Very much so in fact: 40 per cent is a very good number in any one's book.

The real issue is not the 40 per cent. It's that it's not 47 per cent, which it really needs to be to win government. And it's not 47 per cent like it used to be, but it used to be 47 per cent under different circumstances. Those circumstances that are not likely to be repeated.

So his real problem, in the here and now, is that he doesn't have any options to help him out. Labour, meantime, don't suffer the same scrutiny. Because they have New Zealand First and the Greens. And under current numbers, they'd only need one of them.

National doesn't have anyone. And the only one you might be able to find - with a microscope - is ACT, who look as likely today to get their act together as they ever have, which is not likely at all.

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So there needs to be that conservative green party. You'll note it's gone nowhere. So he needs a conservative Christian Party or a resurgent ACT.

What saves Bridges is the fact there is no obvious leader in National who will help their fortunes. Judith Collins might, but then she might not.

You've got to remember Jacinda Ardern saved Labour not because Andrew Little was a fizzer, despite the fact he was, but because the party was on 24 per cent. National is actually popular.

But, and here's the real problem for Bridges, despite the fact he's got 40 per cent, he's still being killed by a thousand cuts. He started bad, carried on bad, and is still bad.

Slushy machines aside, the only time you ever really hear from him is when he's telling you his leadership is just fine. And anyone who's followed the game a while knows that scenario never ends well.