John Banks trails in Epsom

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 21/10/2011
John Banks
ACT MP: John Banks.

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The ACT Party's campaign team has been rocked by further ructions as it faces another dismal poll in Epsom.

A UMR-Research poll out today has its candidate John Banks in second place, on 24 per cent, behind National's Paul Goldsmith on 37 per cent. Labour's David Parker is on 17 per cent.

It comes as parliamentary leader John Boscawen confirmed two members of the campaign team have quit.

Karen Bridgman was replaced as campaign manager by Stuart Wilson in August, but was retained to work alongside leader Don Brash. However, she left three weeks ago along with advertising adviser David Bridgman.

Mr Boscawen also confirmed former press secretary turned consultant Lindsay Perigo has not done any work for the party "for two or three weeks".

As ACT is polling well below the 5 per cent threshhold, it needs Mr Banks to win the seat.

The poll reveals there would be a dramatic turn in Mr Banks' chances if Prime Minister John Key explicitly asked National supporters to vote for the former Auckland mayor. Forty three per cent would give him their vote, with 25 per cent sticking with Mr Goldsmith.

Asked yesterday if he would give ACT this lifeline by sending a clear indication, Mr Key said "not today".

The survey, commissioned by the National Business Review, also asked about Dr Brash's leadership. Almost half (47 per cent) said it had worked out poorly, with 30 per cent believing it had made no difference.

Asked about the campaign yesterday, Mr Boscawen, who is stepping down at the election, said "we are doing OK".

Mr Perigo was working as a consultant writing speeches and press releases. But Mr Boscawen said: "He hasn't done much for us in the last two or three weeks."

They hadn't had a falling out and Mr Perigo was "available as needed", he said.

"Karen chose to stand down and take a break from the campaign about three weeks ago. David hasn't been employed by us since the beginning of October."

Asked if there was ill-feeling among the campaign team, he said: "I wouldn't want to comment on that."

- Fairfax NZ

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