Simon Bridges

Four of New Zealand's five most senior politicians are now under 45 and one the most notable features of this term so far is the sight of party leaders struggling to exercise power and to come to terms with the big jobs

Late Sunday afternoon my six year-old was wandering around in Spiderman pants, a pirate's cape and a variety of hats. A child playing dress-up made me think of nothing so much as the leadership on display in New Zealand's 52nd parliament.

Should we just make up some Russian spies so we can kick them out because the rest of the world is doing it? Or, would that be a less-than-ideal politicisation of intelligence information? I report, you decide.

The Government is taking a lot of heat for not expelling any Russians. That seems like an odd thing to for people to get worked up about, but there you are.

You can judge how the issue has unfolded by the fact that in a space of 24 hours, Simon Bridges has gone from grave statesman "we must stand as one on this issue" mode:

Of course there was nothing else for it. Steven Joyce was never going to sit there and fade into insignificance. So now National begins its true test, and it could signal a realignment on the right of New Zealand politics

Key was a surprise, but a lone act. McCully was predictable, even inevitable. As was English, after he'd had a tilt and failed (again). So it's Joyce's resignation that feels like a turning of the tide, a passing of the baton.

Changes to parliamentary procedure that Simon Bridges helped craft and then explicitly championed while in Government now appear to be bad for National in opposition. So Simon Bridges thinks that they are the worst attack on democratic rights we have ever seen.

In today's NZ Herald, National's shadow leader of the House was frantically sounding out a tocsin to warn of the danger of looming dictatorship: 

Auckland is like a rat in a maze of the National government's making. But Phil Goff is determined to find his own way out... and he just might be about to find a door

Lisa Owen doesn't look much like Steven Joyce. Or Simon Bridges. Or Bill English for that matter. But Phil Goff didn't seem to notice or care when he sat down to be interviewed by her on The Nation this morning. While Lisa sat across the table from him, it was those men he was talking to.