Zac Goldsmith — the erstwhile Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Richmond — lost his re-election bid for his seat in last night after standing down and calling a by-election over the issue of the third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Obviously, there will be much humming and hawing over the issue.
The Tony Blairs and John Majors of the world will try and portray this as the first major test of the Brexit vote at the ballot box since Britain voted to leave the European Union.
I have but one thing to say to these people: get real.
Richmond is one of the most affluent constituencies in the United Kingdom.
The idea that this was a “shock” to the Brexit vote is a total nonsense. Voters in Richmond upon Thames elected to stay in the European Union by a margin of 69.3 per cent to 30.7 per cent. It is a massively liberal-left constituency.
And Zac Goldsmith has won that seat consecutively on the basis of being a Cameroon, liberal-left, eco-friendly, enviro-MP in what would otherwise be, and was, a Liberal Democrat seat. And now it is again.
But the difference between Zac and the Lib Dem victor tonight really came down to one thing: the Liberal Democrats played to their base whereas the Conservative Party MP ostracised his.
This goes back to Zac’s bid to be the London Mayor. And I’m pleased to say that not only did Breitbart London call it at the time — that alienating the conservatives that would have gone out and campaigned for him would end up very badly — I also retain the e-mails I personally sent to his campaign manager Nick de Bois warning him of this.
The history of the London Mayoral campaign has already been rewritten. The claim now is that Mr. Goldsmith lost the mayoralty because of his attack on Sadiq Khan and his Muslim extremist links.
The reality is, this campaign tactic was a last gasp for Goldsmith, having already basically lost the campaign by professing to be a stark-raving leftist, in an environment where voters were already offered the “real deal” in the way of Mr. Khan.
As London Assembly Member Andrew Boff noted at the time, when Goldsmith decided to call himself “pansexual” to LGBT news outlet Pink News:
“[Goldsmith] was effectively saying that people of conservative religious views were not to be trusted – that’s outrageous”.
The timing of this quote is imperative. Boff said this before Goldsmith had even lost. It was clear what was going to happen.
And that’s not necessarily to say that he could have won by being overtly conservative in London. But he would have added to his campaigning team, energised the Brexit campaigners behind him, and offered something unique to the race.
London may be a “liberal” city but there are still more people in that city that identify as Christians than there are people who identify as being of the LGBT community.
Instead, he was but a poor man’s Sadiq Khan.
Goldsmith, for all his so-called “integrity”, shunned conservatives and conservatism.
As soon as the Conservative Party pressured him to ignore the conservative base, he caved.
And by and large that’s because he is a trustafarian, unconcerned with ordinary people’s lives and more concerned by a green, eco-ideology that may chime with his constituents, but isn’t enough to get a campaign team going.
Indeed, his Brexit credentials are purely inherited. He, to my understanding, has never been a “true believer” in Britain leaving the European Union, but rather took his cue from his father, from whence his trust fund originated. Without the Brexit legacy from James Goldsmith, Zac would be just another David Cameron.
And this really underscores the difference between the victory David Davis MP achieved when he stood down and fought his own campaign over the government’s Counter-Terrorism Bill, and Zac’s defeat.
Mr. Davis fundamentally enfranchised his base, energised his supporters, and galvanised campaigners. Zac Goldsmith did no such thing.
And so, on the day after this by-election, Remain campaigners and their talking-heads-in-chiefs may crow about how this is a microcosm of a wider plebiscite on the Brexit vote, but don’t let them fool you.
This vote represents how if you stand as a Conservative, you must be a conservative.
And if you fail to represent the values of the party or movement that you profess to belong to, your ground game will suffer, and your result will be weak.
That’s what happened to Zac Goldsmith in Richmond last night. And frankly, I’m glad.