Simon Bridges told us that the Prime Minister should not have said anything about Ihumātao. Putting a moratorium, he said, on any construction or work while an agreement was attempted was a foolish move. If Simon was Prime Minister he would never have become involved in the issue.
The laughable absurdity of that final conditional aside, Simon then went on to tell us that what needs to happen now is the Prime Minister needs to get involved. She needs to show "leadership" by getting involved. After having got involved when she should not have got involved, her involvement is now needed. And she should tell the protesters to go home.
Bridges issued a press release saying exactly this. "Tell them to go home, Prime Minister" was the title of the press release. My boxer dog heard that whistle and he's been dead five years. Also, I think the point of the protest at Ihumātao is that the people there believe it is their land, which was confiscated by the Crown. So they're already home?
Then a week later Bridges went on Morning Report to criticise James Shaw for the way in which the census played out. An independent report done by people with expertise in the subject suggested that while the roll-out of the census had been bungled, and some of the data - particularly around Māori and Pasifika people - would be suspect, Stats NZ had done an excellent job of filling in some of the gaps using other sources, particularly on overall population data.
Remember, the people who had filled in the gaps in the census were data scientists, and the authors of the report praising them for that were also experts in their fields. Not good enough for Simon though! He knows better. He said that he was now suspicious of all the data that Stats NZ produces and pointed to the fact that they continually review and sometimes change GDP data as evidence that it was shonky.
Rightfully, James Shaw pointed out that this was a dumb argument. One that is about as credible as something my dead boxer would have come up with. Shaw said Bridges is now attacking government departments because maybe people will think they're the same as the Government and so will vote for National next year? I don't know. Whatever strategic genius thought of this move should be out of a strategic job.
Speaking of strategic geniuses, Todd McClay, who had been touted as National's strategy guy came out with his own belter. The Prime Minister was in Tuvalu for the Pacific Island Forum. She made mention of the fact that the Australian government, which seems to behave as though climate change isn't a thing, would need to justify its own climate change policies to the people of the Pacific Islands who are likely to lose their homelands under water. Already we are seeing that occur seasonally in Kiribati.
Many took this to mean that the PM was criticising Australia's climate change position and boy were they outraged. These were the same people of course who said New Zealand shouldn't take a leadership role on climate change unless some of the bigger climate polluters took action too. So I'm not sure why they'd criticise the PM for making a comment prompting other countries to get their act together with regards to climate change.
Then Winston Peters got in on it saying that Pacific Island countries should also be aware that investment they get from China was likely to be off the back of coal, so yet another country being reminded that they should be doing more to fight climate change in order to help Pacific countries.
Strategic Genius McClay saw this as Winston Peters having to cover for the Prime Minister and said "Don't remember Mr Peters ever having to clean up after Helen Clarke [sic]. Still guess we can always trade with Tuvalu."
I'm sure we can read nothing into the fact that Strategic Genius McClay called Winston Peters "Mr Peters" while referring to Helen Clark by her first name, right men and girls?
Sadly for Strategic Genius McClay, his strategic genius was not recognised and it was announced that Paula Bennett would be the campaign chair for National heading into next year's election and not him. This despite the fact that previously Steven Joyce had been both Strategy Guy and Campaign Chair for National for several years. McClay plus Bennett equals Joyce?
Paula Bennett is of course the person who refuses to debate Chlöe Swarbrick on cannabis reform because Chlöe isn't a Minister, but then again neither is Paula. She is also the person who released the private details of some beneficiaries who were criticising a policy Bennett put in place as Minister of Social Development. Bennett is also the Minister who rejected a bunch of recommendations on gun control in a decision criticised by the Police Association President. And Bennett is the MP who benefited from the Training Incentive Allowance to help her study in her younger years and then abolished it as Minister. There is no better metaphor for pulling up the ladder behind you.
So you know, full on strategic genius happening there.
In 1897, Julius Fucik composed "Entry of the Gladiators". That music came to be known in the 20th century as that clown song. Its 21st century association is Simon Bridges' National Party.
• David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green parties and interned for Bill English while studying.