Liberal Democrats win Richmond Park by-election triggered by Zac Goldsmith’s resignation.
I’m not a Liberal Democrat, and after making the enormous mistake of putting some faith in Clegg in 2010 in a more politically naïve time for me, I will never vote for them again. But the victory of Lib Dem newcomer Sarah Olney against the now “independent” Goldsmith is a victory for anyone who opposes Theresa May’s tyrannical government.
Goldsmith, in a typical stance of arrogant politician who fails to understand their duty to represent, had backed Brexit against the majority of his own constituents. 72% of the Richmond Park electorate had backed Remain. Goldsmith then gambled his seat recently leaving the Conservative Party in protest against Heathrow.
Despite his ‘defection’ Goldsmith was of course not really independent and in order to try and clear his path to victory the Tories and UKIP did not contest the seat. This makes the Lib Dem victory all the more satisfying because it does impact Theresa May’s already tiny majority from 16 to 14.
Olney’s success also delivers a knock to the ‘hard Brexit’ crowd in government who have been insisting that they don’t need to tell anyone about their EU plans and can ignore the 48% of the country who voted to Remain in the EU.
The most disappointing thing about this by-election is that the Labour Party, who never had a hope of winning in Richmond Park, opted to stand a candidate against the Liberal Democrats and ignore calls for a progressive alliance to assure victory against May’s government. The reality then is that Labour achieved an embarrassing 3rd place with only 3.7% of the vote and lost their deposit. Instead, they could have taken the same stance as the Green Party who decided not to run against the Liberal Democrats and now look like part of a progressive, coordinated stand against the government.
Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t in general applaud Lib Dem victories; in power they proved themselves to be beyond ideologically flexible, untrustworthy, neoliberal economically and generally spineless. But when the option is between them and a Tory-UKIP hybrid candidate in our unfair voting system, the choice is clear even if it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.