Monday, 31 October 2016

Why we need to unite to throw Zac Goldsmith out of Richmond

The Heathrow third runway decision has caused a by election in the constituency of Richmond. Sitting Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has honoured his pledge to stand down and stand as an independent candidate, should the government decide that the UK needs a new runway at Heathrow. Mr Goldsmith is trying to call the by election a "referendum on Heathrow". It is of course no such thing. It is now simply a referendum on Mr Goldsmith. The reason Mr Goldsmith is nominally an independent is not because he is no longer a Tory, but simply because it is embarrassing for the party that he is out of step. If he wins, he'll immediately rejoin, which is why there is no Tory candidate.

There are numerous reasons why I believe that the non right parties should unite to throw him out on his ear. The biggest one of these is the horrible campaign he lead in the spring to try and become Mayor of London. His campaign was full of spiteful and dishonest smears against Sadiq Khan, who thus far has proved Mr Goldsmith comprehensively wrong in his assessment of Mr Khans capabilities. Just google Zac Goldsmith lies about Sadiq Khan and you will get a stark reminder of just how nasty Mr Goldsmith really is. Of course politicians telling porkies about each other is nothing new, but Goldsmith really opened the sewers with his behaviour. It is bad enough to behave badly, but having seen that Mr Khan has actually been doing a pretty good job, has there been a peep of apology from Goldsmith? I couldn't have been happier than to see Khan win by a landslide and show Goldsmith just how much Londoners saw through his nasty campaign. For me, that debacle is reason enough to end Goldsmiths campaign. All decent Londoners should reject such a divisive figure, especially those in Richmond.

But then there is more to it. Zac Goldsmith is a hard line anti EU zealot, pushing for the hardest of hard Brexits. London as a city voted strongly to remain. Richmond constituency voted strongly to remain. The Brexit campaign claim they have an absolute mandate to leave. They (in contravention of UK law) claim that the referendum overrides the views of Parliament. But in the campaign, no one actually said what a Brexit vote meant. The Leave campaign stated that it was to save £350 million a week, which would be invested in the NHS. This was an outrageous lie. Were 2% of the electorate persuaded to swithc sides, causing the leave voters to win by this? I don't know, but I do know that you cannot claim a mandate when your major campaign promise was clearly a made up porkie. If Leave had won by 20% then they could claim that there was a clear mandate and thier porkie was inconsequential. Sadly for us all, a 2% margin is one which the big porkie is quite likely to have had a major impact on. The Leave camp claim that remain should simply "take it and move on". I disagree. The Leave camp never accepted the 1974 referendum result and we had 42 years of them whinging and whining, so why on earth they think remainers should accept such a narrow vote, which was won with a huge porkie, is beyond me (well it isn't they simply want their own way). I don't believe that the views of the electorate should be ignored, but what I believe we urgently need is a second vote to ratify the exit, once we are 100% clear what that will mean. If the UK then votes for it, that will be that. But if all that is on offer is a deal which will be bad for Richmond, bad for London and bad for the UK, then why on earth should we be forced to take it on the back of referendum vote, which was very tight and based on lies. The best way to send this message is to chuck Londons leading #Brexit tool out on his ear. It is no coincidence that UKIP have said they support Mr Goldsmith. I for one, would not want a UKIP endorsed MP in London. However you look at it, Mr Goldsmith will strengthen and give credibility to UKIP.

Then there is the issue of Heathrow. Mr Goldsmith wants this to be the issue. As seems to be the pattern with Mr Goldsmith, there is a bit of smoke and mirrors. His leading rival in Richmond is also a staunch anti third runway campaigner. She is Sarah Olney. It is worth noting that when The Tories were in coalition with the Lib Dems, they were prevented from expanding Heathrow. It seems to me likely that a Lib Dem victory in Richmond is likely to send a far stronger messaage to Theresa May than a Tory victory. For the record, I support a third runway at Heathrow. This is not because I think it is a great option, but it is the least worse. But it is clearly a massive issue for Richmond voters and if they are clear headed about what they want, then they should recognise this.

I think that in many ways, the Richmond By Election is perhaps the most important by election for a generation. If Goldsmith is re elected it will be a disaster for London and for the progressive centre left. As such, I would love to see the Labour Party and The Greens stand asidde to give Sarah Olney a clear run. Of couse there are all manner of arguments against this, but ultimately she is the only candidate with any chance of stopping Goldsmith. I would say the same if it were a Labour or a Green candidate who was most likely to win. I suspect that Laour will reject this notion, not least because the Lib Dems were in bed with the Tories just over a year ago. This would be a huge mistake. Whatever faults the coalition had, and these were numerous, it was a far better government than this hard right Tory regime we are now lumbered with. A Goldsmith victory will simplyencourage the likes of Boris and David Davis to be even more gung ho.

Yesterday I filled my van up with Diesel. This was more than 10% more expensive than it was in May. The reason for this is that the pound has tumbled since Brexit. Fuel is priced in dollars. This not only hits fuel costs directly, but everything that is transported. We had the Marmite crisis and now we hear that Apple are hiking prices. All of this is down to the Brexit vote. We are lucky that Mr Goldsmith has given us a referendum on his hard right, uber Tory isolationist, UKIP endorsed views.

I urge everyone who rejects such a person to get behind Sarah Olney and send Mr Goldsmith packing.

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