A new beginning with a clean slate is the “best opportunity ACT has had in 17 years”, says David Seymour, who has all but confirmed he will put his hand up to be its candidate for Epsom.
Sole MP John Banks will stand down as the party’s leader in March and leave Parliament at this year’s election.
He is facing trial for allegations of knowingly filing a false electoral return.
Seymour, who has been living in Canada, had previously ruled out running for the position, but has confirmed his circumstances had changed and he was hoping to hand in his nomination by the end of next week.
He will be vying for the position against Jamie Whyte, who has also put his hand up to lead the party. But Seymour said it was his support for Whyte that played a role in him changing his mind.
“What’s changed is I’ve come back, I’ve met Jamie Whyte – I’m very impressed by him and I want to support him – but I’ve still got a few personal things to tidy up obviously.”
Seymour said he was not expecting to be leader, but would like to be the MP for Epsom.
“There’s a number of possible configurations, one is that a single person is the Epsom candidate and a leader of the party. Or those two roles could be split.
“Outside of those two roles, we’re hoping that ACT will actually get a number of MPs in [to Parliament] and so that’s the proposition.”
Whyte has also written to party members asking for their support to be Epsom candidate and leader. His letter reads:
Dear ACT member,
You will have read that I have put my name forward to be the leader of ACT and the candidate for Epsom, positions which need not be held by the same person. I am writing to you to introduce myself and explain why I believe I can be an effective leader of ACT.
ACT is a party of principle, not a lobby group for “rich pricks” or anyone else. It needs a leader who is a credible advocate of our principles and policies. Over the last 10 years I have consistently made the case for individual liberty under the rule of law in opinion columns for the Wall Street Journal and The Times (among other papers), in my recently published book Quack Policy and as a pundit on British radio and TV. On the basis of this work, in 2012 I was made a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs and a senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. To give you an idea of my ideas, I attach to this email a PDF of Free Thoughts, a collection of my columns published last year by the Adam Smith Institute.
The rest of my professional career also supports my credibility on economic and social policy. I began my post-student life as a philosophy lecturer at Cambridge University. I then moved to London to work as a management consultant with Oliver Wyman, a firm specializing in banking strategy. I ended my third stint with the firm in 2013, having become Head of Research and Publications. My time in consulting means that, unusually for a philosopher, I know a lot about business, both its theory and its practice.
ACT has fallen to less than 1% support nationally. It needs renewal. Among other things, that requires new and younger faces. I am a sprightly 48, with a wife and two daughters, 10 and 6. My profile in New Zealand is now low. But given my experience in the British media, I am confident that I can quickly change that, especially if chosen to lead ACT. Below is a link to a TV3 News item on me.
Finally, there has been some mis-reporting of my nationality. For the record, I am not English. I was born in Auckland to Kiwi parents and lived here until finishing my BA at Auckland University. Since then I have lived in many countries but mainly England. My family and I lived in Auckland from 2004 to 2008 and we are now back for good.
His columns make excellent reading, and they are included below.