After being an observer at the ACT Scenic South Regional Conference I’ve posted my impressions of one of the John Bs – see Act I, John Banks.
The other ACT John B is party president John Boscawen. He also gave a speech at the conference, and I was able to have a good chat with him afterwards.
Boscawen was one of the five ACT MPS last term. He decided not to stand again in 2011 for genuine family reasons.He had a reputation of being down to earth, a hard worker, reliable – but was described as being not so good in the arts of communication.
I thought he gave a good speech. He wasn’t as animated or funny as the other John B. He didn’t drop any media H bombs like Rodney Hide. But he was clear and informative, giving a good explanation of his aims and priorities, and where he hoped to help take the ACT party.
My impression is that Boscawen is a very capable speaker, he’s just not flashy, nor is he an attention seeker.
I’ll deal more with his speech in later posts.
Afterwards he had a long talk to myself and another non-ACT observer, Hamish, who is a Young Nat. I was interested in asking, listening and learning what I could about Boscawen and what he was doing.
And Boscawen was interested in asking, listening and learning about what I was doing – unusual in my experience with politicians (although I have had a similar long talk and listen with the United Future president).
Boscawen has taken on the job of ACT president and has committed himself to working full time for the party up to next year’s election, doing what he can to help ACT return to Parliament, hopefully with several more MPs. He is financially self supporting so is able to put substantial time and effort into this.
He sounds very determined and clear about the required tasks. The Banks John has a heavy workload being an electorate MP, party leader (something he said he hadn’t aspired to be), and Government Minister. He returned to Parliament in 2011 after an absence of many years and with a gutted party in disarray. Then last year he had to weather substantial targeted attacks by opposition parties.
So the role of the Boscawen John is very important. He has the time and determination to rebuild support for his party. And he’s not shy about recruiting new party members, he asked both Hamish and I what it would take to get us to join ACT. He couldn’t afford me.
ACT has had a very difficult few years, with MP misteps, revelations, party takeovers and cups of toxic tea.
But despite this with John Banks they survived. And he will probably ensure they will survive until the next election – unless Kim Dotcom is holding a bomb in reserve. It is up to Banks to keep the party running.
John Boscawen is in a position to rebuild the party and regain support. He seems a genuine nice guy, but very focussed and determined, has lived through and learnt from past mistakes, and has success in his background.
ACT have John Banks to thank for having hung on. If they are to become a significant force in New Zealand politics they will have a lot to thank John Boscawen for.
I’m not and have never been an ACT supporter, but I do want to see a strong presence of a range of large and small parties in Parliament, including ACT. Diversity strengthens democracy.
I see hope for ACT, and for Parliament, in the two John Bs. And that must be a hope shared by National, for different reasons.