COMMENT

The trick in difficult times is not to panic.

The Newshub poll last night ran with a commentary that suggested panic in National, and if there wasn't any, there should be. We heard phrases like "Simon Bridges is a dead man walking".

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Is he? Based on what? A Government that happened to be in power when a crisis struck reacted well, and handed out free money, the likes of which we have never seen. That's automatic popularity and has nothing to do with the performance of the party on the other side of the Parliament.

We are seeing the same results all over the world. Boris Johnson is absurdly popular and yet is running a Covid-19 response that looks shambolic. It involves numbers in cases and deaths as bad as anywhere in Europe.

US President Donald Trump has a higher support number now than ever, and yet it's a mess in the US.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison just yesterday has numbers well into the 60s and he is actually making a decent job of it. State-wise in Australia, people such as Premier Daniel Andrews in Victoria, who's holding the place in a very conservative sort of lockdown compared to other parts of the country, is in the 70s. Gladys Berejiklian in New South Wales is in the high 70s.

Being popular, when trouble strikes is par for the course. Sir John Key post Christchurch, any leader in wartime, Bush post Kuwait was in the 90s.

So what we saw in the poll fits with what you would expect, and what the so-called leaked polls we've seen these past few weeks confirm. Given that, why are we looking to blame a Leader of the Opposition who cannot do a thing about it?

Mike Hosking. Photo / File
Mike Hosking. Photo / File

If National are stupid enough to try and roll him, or fuel rumours about unrest and dissatisfaction, they deserve everything that's coming to them. Panic is the weak man's game, and the election which is what they should be facing up to, is four full months away. This health crisis isn't even two months old, and look what's happened in that time.

Labour deserve to be popular. The lockdown was right and worked. The Prime Minister is good with the simplistic verbal accoutrements which appease and encourage the casual observer of the political game.

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But the end goal is September, not May. Like all elections, they are fought on back-pocket issues like jobs, money, security, health and happiness. The contest has barely begun. Holding your nerve is a skill.

If National panic now, they'll have four months and three years to think through the wisdom of why they didn't back themselves better.