An under-fire Simon has demonstrated that he is not ready to burn yet as he confidently builds bridges with Indians at Auckland’s Diwali Festival.
His steadfast intention to build bridges with the Indian Community was as clear as the cloudless sunny day that dawned over Auckland on the opening day of Diwali in Aotea Square on Saturday, October 20.
In a clear test of political mettle where many pundits had quietly assumed that Mr Bridges would give a miss to Indian community’s biggest public gathering immediately after the controversial race-related comments released last week, he surprised one and all, not only by turning up to the event, but also by refusing to be bogged down upon the crisis thrust upon him by one rogue colleague.
Backing their Leader resolutely, the National Party caucus members also turned out in significant numbers to dispel any rumour that the Party was on the back foot, especially within the ethnic communities – where Party believes that it has been “trailblazers.”
Mr Bridges has asserted immediately after the official ceremony in a media interview that “National been a trailblazer for ethnic communities in New Zealand.”
This is one of the key messaging that Mr Bridges’ has commissioned for the Party and assiduously asserting - to not surrender and resolutely guard the turf of being “trailblazers for ethnic communities in New Zealand.
To what extent would this messaging be received by the ethnic communities in future still remains to be seen, however, what is clear for now is that Mr Bridges had managed to walk away from the Auckland Diwali Festival without any collateral damage.
His steadfast intentions in reaching out to key stakeholders within the Indian community and directly to the members of the community seemed to have made right impact and accepted by at least a majority of those present in the festival.
Many members of the public who spoke to the Indian Weekender at the Diwali Festival seemed to be satisfied with the explanation given by Mr Bridges about the leaked phone conversation and accepted his regret to be part of the fateful conversation.
In fact, they appeared more outraged with the comments of Botany MP Jamie Lee Ross and believed that he should seek re-election from an electorate which is largely dominated by ethnic voters.
Meanwhile, Mr Bridges was present at the event in full colours both on stage and off-stage and continued to back his ethnic MPs in front of a largely Kiwi-Indian audience.
For now, it seems that an under-fire Simon is not ready to burn yet as many would have envisaged or hoped.