The next ACT leader

Stuff reports:

Talk about a new right wing political party is being revived amid the latest body blow to after leader John Banks was sent to trial over electoral fraud allegations.

Banks announced yesterday he would step down as leader in March and former leader Rodney Hide is being actively courted to step into his shoes by some high profile members, including the man who rolled him, Don Brash.

Brash confirmed last night he had tried to convince Hide to return to the national politics and said the former Epsom MP was the best chance of saving the party.

“From my perspective there are few politicians or former poiticians who can express the views of the centre right on economic issues moreNew  clearly than Rodney can.”

Party insiders confirmed there was support within the organisation for Hide to return. But Hide is less keen – he is said to have rebuffed all approaches so far.

Former British based right wing commentator Jamie Whyte, a rising star in the party, last night confirmed he was throwing his hat into the ring for both the leadership and he Epsom nomination.

There has also been speculation about lobbyist and right wing columnist Matthew Hooton, who confirmed he had been approached by a number of people yesterday who were “concerned”  about the state of centre-right politics.

But Hooton said he had other priorities currently including his family and business and sources said it was unlikely.

Hooton also writes on this issue saying NZ needs a new Bob Jones. The Herald canvasses a longer list of possibilities:

Catherine Isaac: The former party president is ruling out standing for Epsom. But she won’t comment on whether she would consider the leadership.

Jamie Whyte: The formerly British-based journalist made an appearance at ACT’s conference. He now lives in New Zealand and has confirmed he is in the running.

Matthew Hooton: The lobbyist has ambitions to be an MP and joked in his weekly column about standing for ACT in Epsom, where he lives. His natural home is National but he was uncharacteristically tight-lipped yesterday.

Cameron Brewer: The Auckland councillor and former press secretary to Jenny Shipley did not return calls yesterday. The 40-year-old ruled out standing for ACT at the 2011 election, saying he was in no rush to get to Wellington.

Chris Simmons: The former party president and management consultant was ranked seventh on the party list at the last election. Earlier this year he was said to be eyeing the blue-ribbon electorate of Pakuranga.

David Seymour: A policy wonk and former ministerial adviser to John Boscawen, ranked 6th in 2011. But the 30-year-old has built a successful career in Canada.

Rodney Hide: A former leader rolled by Don Brash. Brash said yesterday he would endorse Hide’s return, but the self-styled perk-buster is understood to be not interested.

It will be interesting to see who stands.

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