Duncan Garner: Alleged National Party coup has 'classic hallmarks' of previous leadership spills

OPINION: I am told from sources within the National Party that moves are underway to dump Simon Bridges as leader.

I haven't been able to substantiate it, but nor would I necessarily expect to, so early in what I call the 'coup cycle'.

It could be weeks and weeks before it plays out.

But I'll tell you what I know and how it fits into the anatomy of a coup.

This has all the classic hallmarks of leadership spills that I've reported on before.

This gathered steam on Tuesday night.

I was contacted directly by a National Party insider and told MPs were being canvassed to see how much support there would be for a Mark Mitchell, Paula Bennett ticket.

I'm also told that MPs Nikki Kaye and Todd Muller, himself seen as a future leader, are doing the numbers for Mitchell and Bennett. Various zoom calls are taking place between MPs.

So... why now?

It seems MPs and party members are unhappy with Bridges' handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the way he has criticised the response.

I'm still unsure who would be the leader out of Mitchell or Bennett, but the way it was relayed to me suggests it's Rodney MP, Mitchell.

He's a former policeman who spent time in the Middle East as a private security contractor.

I rate Mitchell, he has an excellent temperament and crucially, he's likeable.

I have doubted in the past if he's hungry enough for this job. Does he want it? I'm told he does.

I once asked him if he killed people while working in the Middle East doing security. Well handled.

Crucially he doesn't have the baggage of Bennett who, while seriously connected in the party, has made it very clear she does not want to be leader given the very personal toll being a minister took on her family.

Incidentally, I ran into her in the supermarket on the weekend and as she walked away, she said, 'don't you worry, I have a three-point plan'.

Could mean anything.

So the stalking horse is underway to destabilise Simon Bridges.

Disregard all their denials.

This is how a coup works.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.