Nigel Latta admits 'stupid' Twitter feud with Simon Bridges motivated by 'fear'

Nigel Latta and Simon Bridges.
Nigel Latta and Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Newshub.

Television psychologist Nigel Latta has written an essay reflecting on his "stupid" use of Twitter after a public war of words with National Party leader Simon Bridges.

On Sunday, Latta accused Bridges and the National Party of "embracing Trump's approach to the truth" while criticising a tweet from the political party saying New Zealand had been taken into deficit by the Labour Party. It comes after Treasury projected a $900 million deficit this financial year before surpluses return over the next four years.

Bridges replied by asking what was untrue in the tweet, to which Latta said it was disingenuous for National to be claiming it created "massive surpluses" when the country faced infrastructure issues. The party leader said the psychologist shouldn't pretend to be objective.

In a tweet on Monday, Latta said he had no desire to enter politics, despite some on Twitter suggesting it. 

"I just don't want to live in the NZ that Simon Bridges & National want to create. Instead, I believe in a NZ where all of us matter, not just some of us."

After several more tweets, the pair decided to call their feud off, wishing each other a merry Christmas. 

Latta has now written a reflective essay, admitting it had been a "weird couple of weeks" and that he regretted "yelling on Twitter about politics". He said it hadn't achieved anything positive.

"I reread a lot of it and it sounds like just the kind of accusatory point-scoring stuff I swore I would never say."

He said he had been accused of being an "agent" of both the right-wing and left-wing, but he disliked associating people with one of two political camps. 

"Our tendency to get tribal is natural, it's human, but it's something we have to constantly resist if we're going to solve the complex issues we're facing in the world right now," the psychologist wrote.

"Fear" was what led him to his Twitter outburst, Latta said. 

"I've been looking out at the world over recent months and honestly, it made me a little afraid. Politics in many parts of the world seems angry and intolerant, and just plain lacking in basic human kindness."

He said when he heard similar rhetoric in the New Zealand political arena, "it worried me" and he began "yelling".

Latta has now vowed to stop it and instead focus on things he cares about like fairness, equity and kindness.

"I'm not going to personally stoke the fires that divide us one from the other. There is far too much of that in the world already."

He said New Zealanders all want a country where there is an opportunity to live meaningful and satisfying lives.

"That, I believe, is the thing which ultimately unites us all".

Latta is well-known for a series of television shows looking at issues like money and crime from a psychology perspective.