Act have taken a big risk in their selection of Jamie Whyte as Act leader and David Seymour as their candidate for the pivotal Epsom seat.
They have left out experienced politician and campaigner and widely respected good bloke John Boscawen and instead have chosen two virtually unknown political novices.
Act’s situation has been precarious for years, particularly with John Banks now in serious in trouble and indicating he will bow out this year. Ironically Banks gave the stand-out speech when Parliament opened for the year last week.
Feedback on yesterday’s selection (by the Act board, members don’t take part in the selection) from Act supporters and Epsom voters is mixed. Some are very disappointed by the rejection of Boscawen and say they won’t vote Act now. Others are pleased to see the party redefining itself with fresh faces.
It’s difficult to judge how many voters will be attracted by a more ideological Act as opposed to a politically pragmatic party.
With Boscawen staying out of the party president role and substantially reducing his input of his own money plus his fund raising Act nor only have to get a leader and their key electorate candidate up to speed plus build a party virtually carried by Boscawen over the last year it’s going to be a huge challenge.
Whatever the Act board decided would have been a risk. Choosing a balance of down to earth experience (Boscawen) and renewal (either of the other two) would have been their safest option but they have instead taken a bigger risk going for novices.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the Act camble will pay off or not over the next nine months.
Dr Whyte, aged 48, has recently returned to live in New Zealand from abroad and has only recently become active in the party.
Mr Seymour, aged 30, first stood for Act in 2005 in Mt Albert against former Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Last election he stood in Auckland Central.
He has been working for a think-tank in Canada and may well have returned permanently had he not been made candidate for Epsom.
So neither have been embedded in New Zealand politics recently.
Act announcement (by acting president Barbara Astill): ACT Leadership and Epsom Candidacy
The Act Board who presumaby made the decisions:
|ACT Leader||John Banks|
|Vice President||Barbara Astill||-acting President|
|Auckland North||Beth Houlbrooke|
|Auckland South||John Thompson|
|Upper South||Gareth Veale|
|Scenic South||Guy McCallum|
- as listed on their website