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Looking over ?his shoulder?

Opinion Piece

A week of surprises and turmoil in politics ended on an unpleasant note for National leader Simon Bridges, showing that he has failed to make any impact on Jacinda Ardern as preferred prime minister.

Donald Trump, as he so often does, started a week of turmoil by announcing he would not go ahead with a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As also so often happens, he later changed tune, hinting that the summit will actually take place. The uncertainty is not helping an anxious world.

During the week New Zealand’s Parliament degenerated into a pre-school session after Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard told a national media outlet he had heard a National MP describe Ardern as a “stupid little girl”.

It led to stormy scenes with deputy leader of the Opposition Paula Bennet first storming out of the house, and then being ordered out the next day for good measure.

National now claims Mallard is biased. Hopefully someone will use the two-week recess to try to restore some decorum.

Then there was Ireland’s abortion law reform referendum, with 66 percent voting to relax some of the world’s strictest abortion laws. This would not have happened in this traditionally conservative and deeply Catholic country even as recently as a decade ago. It also led to calls for New Zealand to revise its abortion legislation.

Perhaps the most unpleasant news for Bridges came yesterday when the Newshub Reid Research poll had him at just 9 percent as preferred PM. Not only that, his recent leadership rival Judith Collins polled 3.7 percent — registering as a preferred candidate for the first time. By contrast, Ardern is favoured by 40.2 percent.

Collins was quick to deny any current leadership ambitions, but cynics would advise Bridges to watch his back.

The two largest parties both received a slight bump in the poll, with National on 45 percent and Labour 42.6 percent.

Behind his public derision of polls, soon-to-be (temporary) Prime Minister Winston Peters might also be concerned. His party was down to 2.4 percent and would lose its kingmaker role to the Greens on this poll.