Opinion: Bridges has a lot to learn

Simon Bridges. Photo: RNZ
Simon Bridges. Photo: RNZ
Simon Bridges has been riding a big wave this week during his relatively short time as leader of the National Party – Labour’s alleged sex assault debacle.

Bridges has been landing big shots in a calm and collected manner. He has been even-handed in his delivery; no ranting and raving which we might have seen from a less politically-experienced Bridges a couple of years ago when he was making his way through the National ranks.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been the opposite. She looks totally under siege, uncomfortable at the relentless questioning of what she might have known or didn’t know.

It has played right into National and Bridges’ hands.

So why would he stumble so badly this week by saying New Zealanders don’t care about the Christchurch Call and its attempt to eradicate extremism and terrorism online.

Has Bridges forgotten what happened in Deans Ave and Linwood Ave on March 15, when people were slaughtered by an individual who hated them for simply who they were?

Has Bridges forgotten the outpouring of sympathy and grief in Christchurch, many who felt a major sense of guilt that men, women and children could be gunned down in our city simply because of their beliefs?

And has Bridges forgotten we are only days away from the six-month anniversary of the massacre?

Why he would criticise the Christchurch Call? It was grandstanding. He wanted to take some of the limelight away from Ardern’s meeting with Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Monday.

Dorsey was in Wellington to catch up with Ardern, who inspired the Christchurch Call summit in Paris. The meeting involved social media matters including 8Chan, the platform used by the accused gunman to spread his manifesto.

So Bridges went public, saying New Zealanders are more concerned about the measles outbreak, education and the state of the roads.

That may or maybe not be the case. But when you have Ardern on the ropes over the alleged sex assault debacle, why would you even think about throwing a distracting headline-grabbing opportunity into the mix.

Bridges still has a lot to learn. He should have kept his views on the Christchurch Call to himself.









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