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Candidate profile: Zac Goldsmith

Henry Riley

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Name: Zac Goldsmith

Party: Independent (resigned from Conservative Party)

Constituency: Richmond Park

Previous election history: Richmond Park, 2010 (29,461, 49.7%, elected), 2015 (34,404, 58.2%, elected).

Biography: Zac Goldsmith, a former editor of the Ecologist Magazine, is a former Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston now standing as an independent candidate in the by-election for that seat. He is the author of The Constant Economy.

He has represented Richmond Park for the past six years and was also the Conservative Candidate in the London Mayoral Election in 2016.

Hobbies/interests: Goldsmith pursues sporting interests including cricket. He and his family live in Barnes.

He says: “In 2010, when I was standing for election for the first time, David Cameron told west London residents: “No ifs, no buts, there will be no third runway.”

Although it was music to many ears, not everyone believed him, so I followed his promise with my own. I said that if my party changed its position, I would resign as local MP to trigger a byelection and give my constituents a chance to vote again. It was a simple promise, with no small print. And I know that many residents voted for me on the back of it. So when my party broke its promise, I kept mine.

I believe we will win this battle. In addition to the noise, cost, air pollution and appalling congestion implications, the sheer complexity involved in building the third runway means that with the right campaign, it is unlikely ever to happen. I will do all I can to make sure of it.

This byelection is happening for one reason only: it is our chance to speak as one – to send a message via the ballot box both to Heathrow and the government.

There is a reason why the Heathrow villagers whose homes will be destroyed, and all the key anti-Heathrow expansion campaign groups are actively backing me to win. They know that I am the best bet we have of stopping expansion. They also know that if I lose, Heathrow will declare victory.

I’m standing as an independent candidate in this byelection, and am asking residents to give me a clear mandate to return to parliament to keep fighting on their behalf – just as I have as an MP for the last six years on this and so many other issues.

As an independent MP, I will work constructively with government, supporting them when they get it right, holding them to account when they get it wrong – but always delivering for my constituents.”

Henry Riley is a radio presenter at Radio Jackie, assistant producer at LBC and a presenter on Kingston Green Radio.

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#RichmondPark

Lib Dems pull off shock victory in Richmond Park by-election as Zac is thrown out

James Giles

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A ‘shockwave to Downing Street’ has, last night, been pulled off by the Liberal Democrats, with Sarah Olney defeating Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election.

Lib Dem challenger Ms Olney overturned Mr Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority to win by 1,872 votes. The result saw Ms Olney poll 20,510 votes to Mr Goldsmith’s 18,638, on a turnout of 41,367, or 53.6 per cent. The 21.74 per cent swing to the Lib Dems from Mr Goldsmith topped the 19.3 per cent swing the Lib Dems achieved from the Tories in the Witney by-election.

A Green Party spokesperson said: “The Green Party’s decision to stand down and the huge drop in the Labour Party vote show that people will vote tactically. It proves that there is a huge appetite and a need for proportional representation so that people can express a real preference at elections. In Sarah Olney, we now have an MP who will push for the electoral reform that we so urgently need. We look forward to working with the Liberal Democrats, Women’s Equality Party and the Labour Party in a Progressive Alliance for the 2018 local elections and the next General Election.”

 

Ms Olney said the shock victory was a rejection of the “Ukip vision” of Britain, and the politics of “anger and division”.

In her victory speech, she said: “The people of Richmond Park and North Kingston have sent a shockwave through this Conservative Brexit government, and our message is clear: we do not want a hard Brexit. We do not want to be pulled out of the single market, and we will not let intolerance, division and fear win.”

In a brief acknowledgement of the result, a clearly downcast Mr Goldsmith said: “This by-election that we have just had was not a political calculation, it was a promise that I made and it was a promise that I kept.”

Labour’s Christian Wolmar lost his deposit as he trailed a distant third with 1,515 votes, losing 8% of the Labour vote compared to 2015.

A Conservative Party spokesman said the result would make no difference to Brexit plans, stating: “This result doesn’t change anything. The Government remains committed to leaving the European Union and triggering Article 50 by the end of March next year. Commiserations to Zac Goldsmith on his defeat. We are sorry that he is no longer in the House of Commons.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit government.

“This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

“If this was a general election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it.

Mr Wolmar said voters had disliked Mr Goldsmith’s “ghastly, disgusting” bid to be London Mayor in which Labour accused him of running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan.

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