Last summer I was prepared to give Zac Goldsmith the benefit of the doubt, yes he had some questionable views about green crap and blanket opposition to airport expansion, and he could hardly be described as a conservative on social issues, but he came from a good pedigree and was a declared Eurosceptic.
For this reason we invited him to give a keynote speech at the Bow Group’s Summer Reception last year, in his role as Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, to detail his brand of conservatism.
The reception was scheduled to take place when Conservative Central Office skulduggery was at the height of its powers. I was at the time battling the now infamous “Tatler Tory” Mark Clarke and his partner in crime Paul Abbott, their associates Harry Cole at the Sun and Mark Wallace at Conservative Home decided to run stories to derail the reception and the leftist “LGBT” lobby website “Pink News” berated Goldsmith to pull out at the last minute because I opposed same sex marriage.
There followed a disastrous LBC interview debate and a bizarre statement from Goldsmith, as he crumbled to the pressure of the LGBT lobby, that he had never agreed to give a keynote speech to the Bow Group. He then did a follow up interview with Pink News where he declared my opposition to same sex marriage as a Christian as “ugly” (which may not fill London’s 3 million Christians with confidence).
This week he’s been caught lying again in insisting that an Islamic Imam that David Cameron described as an extremist was not invited to one of his events. It turns out, he was.
Unsurprisingly I’m no fan of Sadiq Khan (though he did have Mark Clarke’s number before most others when he beat him in Tooting in 2010) but the truth is it makes very little difference who the Mayor of London is. The Mayor slaps their name on bikes and parks and turns up to open events, sometimes on a zip-wire. If Ken Livingstone was running for Mayor for the first time in 2016 rather than in 2000 we would be told by the Conservative leadership that communism was about to overthrow our capital. The reality is, whilst Ken Livingstone is a Marxist lunatic, he made no difference to London’s development and accidentally oversaw one of the biggest capitalist boom and bust cycles in its history. I very much doubt most London residents noticed the transition from Ken to Boris, and they won’t from Boris to Khan.
Zac Goldsmith is coming out of a terrible campaign exposed as a liar and a counter-productive figure in defending conservative values against the left.
The only reason to back someone for Mayor of London is to propel them to the national stage and set them up for a future in seniority in their party. There is no value in conservatives making that commitment to Zac Goldsmith, who will brush off any past commitments and throw anyone under the bus he feels he needs to to take power.
Ladbrokes puts Goldsmith’s chances of winning at 6 to 1. Even if you think he’s anything other than a lightweight, the race is already over – Sadiq Khan will be the the next Mayor of London, Goldsmith will be a poor runner up and Peter Whittle may well get a solid 3rd place.
The emaciation of the Conservative Party membership, and then the embarrassing abolition of the supposed panacea to it: “Road Trip”(Mark Clarke again), has left Goldsmith with hardly anyone to campaign for him. I know a few people who still turn out for him and have tried to utilise the remnants of the also abolished “Conservative Future” to drum up a few activists out of a residual sense of loyalty, but their hearts aren’t in it and they don’t believe he can win.
Bestowing loyalty on the Conservative Party for reasons of name only is surely a disgrace to its founding principles and greatest advocates.
This is a Party now run by people who set dangerous psychopaths and sex abusers to terrify their own activists into line, who cheated in the general election and are trying to stitch up the EU referendum using the same dodgy tactics.
The Conservative Party is a lame duck until it’s internal battles are settled and a new leader that either unites or splits the party emerges.
There is only one fight for conservatives in any party until that time: Brexit.
The polls, for what they are worth, show the EU referendum is on a knife edge, but the establishment are throwing everything at clinging on to the EU. In such a tight race in which we are out-gunned, every minute of every single campaigner’s efforts will make a difference.
In 50 years time people will still be talking about the EU referendum of 2016, they won’t be talking about Zac Goldsmith in 5 months. Pledge your efforts where they will count – if you haven’t already done so, ignore the Mayoral election and campaign heart and soul for Brexit.
Ben Harris-Quinney is the Chairman of the Bow Group, Britain’s oldest conservative think tank.