Labour frontbenchers are wrong to urge party not to contest Richmond Park byelection

Extremist: Zac Goldsmith ran a hate campaign against his London mayoral opponent, Sadiq Khan. This Times cartoon nails it.

Extremist: Zac Goldsmith ran a hate campaign against his London mayoral opponent, Sadiq Khan. This Times cartoon nails it.

I disagree with Clive Lewis, Jonathan Reynolds and Lisa Nandy. Labour should put up a candidate against Zac Goldsmith precisely because he ran such a nasty, racist London mayoral campaign.

Londoners need an opportunity to express their anger at Mr Goldsmith over what he did; Labour would be missing an opportunity to make a major gain in a Tory heartland by walking away.

Also, it would look like co-operation with Mr Goldsmith to give him back the Richmond Park seat.

Labour frontbenchers have called on the party not to put forward a candidate to run against Zac Goldsmith in the forthcoming Richmond Park byelection, to give the Liberal Democrats a clear path to try to snatch the seat.

Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow City minister, and Lisa Nandy, a former shadow cabinet minister, said Labour should “put the national interest first” by doing what it could to reduce the Conservatives’ majority.

They also said Goldsmith had run “a nasty, racially divisive campaign” for mayor of London against Labour’s Sadiq Khan. “If there is any chance of kicking Goldsmith out of parliament, the vote against him must not be split. That’s why we think Labour should consider not standing a candidate in this byelection,” the three MPs wrote in an article for Labour List.

Source: Labour frontbenchers urge party not to contest Richmond Park byelection | Politics | The Guardian

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10 thoughts on “Labour frontbenchers are wrong to urge party not to contest Richmond Park byelection

  1. Claire

    Personally I think they are right not to contest the seat and I’m not the only one. This from Richard Murphy’s blog:

    Will Labour have the sense to sit out the Richmond by-election?

    Posted: 25 Oct 2016 11:33 PM PDT

    In the latest twist in his uncomfortable political career Zac Holdsmith has resigned as an MP to fight a by-election in his Richmond-on-Thames constituency, supposedly in protest at the government’s decision to back a new runway at Heathrow. This, he thinks, will provide a referendum for local people on the issue. He will stand as in independent.

    His intention had been long trailed. It took very little time for the Conservatives to say they would not contest the seat. This leaves him as the Conservative candidate by default. It also means that the chance that there will be a pro-Heathrow candidate is incredibly low. That means his gesture is an empty folly.

    If Labour was wise it would treat it as such. That’s firstly because it has no hope of winning the seat.

    It’s secondly because if it sat the by-election out there has to be a chance that the Lib Dems will win in a poll that would then be a referendum in the government’s handling of Brexit, which will have been deeply unpopular in wealthy south-west London.

    So that would be one less for the government majority and a mighty blow for the man who ran a very nasty and racist campaign to be Mayor of London.

    But will Labour have the sense to sit it out? I can only hope, but without expectation. Tribalism matters to Labour more than the overall political good. And that is a loss to us all.

  2. Roy Beiley

    Disagree with you on this one Mike.
    Only fight battles you have an even chance of winning. Goldsmith will get the seat and he will be free to harass Tories on Heathrow choice.
    If Labour do contest it they will lose and give rightwingers amno to say Labour under Corbyn are ‘losers’.

  3. Charlie Mansell

    Totally agree. It’s not going to happen and we will run a candidate because local members will want to and in the party nowadays local members views at ward, branch and CLP level should count more. The question to ask anyone advocating withdrawal are what conditions are they insisting on? Based on their recent behaviour and not just what they say the Lib Dem candidate cannot be given a ‘blank cheque’ to go into coalition with the Tories as many of us warned before 2010. Do those advocating withdrawal even agree it would be on the basis that the Lib Dem candidate must pledge never to go into coalition with the Tories, which they would currently be very unlikely to agree? Of course the LDs last gave this sort of commitment at the time of the Chard speech of 1992 but broke the pledge by 2010.

  4. Tim

    Labour should field candidates in all constituencies, win or lose, because everywhere there is someone who wants to vote for the party and therefore everywhere everybody should be given the chance to do so. That IS democracy.

  5. Roland Laycock

    Labour should put up a candidate against Zac Goldsmith as you say he ran such a nasty, racist London mayoral campaign. And people should be reminded about his actions

  6. David Wangusi Masinde


    We should contest for this by-election. We can’t give Conservatives a free ride. We are ready to campaign for a Labour Candidate. Labour NEC should look into this issue and field a candidate as soon as possible. It is time not just to taste the waters but to take every opportunity and reduce Tory majority whenever we can.

  7. casalealex


    Zaxit does indeed sound like a spot cream. But Zac Goldsmith’s exit from the Tory party, and the Commons, last night could cause a lot more trouble for Theresa May than the mere row over Heathrow expansion.

    As I’ve written in detail HERE, the Lib Dems are determined to turn the Richmond Park by-election into a verdict on May’s stance on Brexit as much as on aircraft noise and pollution. The yellow hoards will descend on the seat in even bigger numbers than Witney as they seek to retake the south west London seat lost in 2010.

    The Libs want to give the Remainers of Richmond their very own second referendum on Brexit. And you can see why, given the June statistics. Richmond borough voted 69% and Kingston borough voted 62% to stay in the EU, but the party locally suggests ward-by-ward figures show the constituency itself (made up of upper-middle class bits of both boroughs) is even more Remainiac: with 72% voting against Brexit.

    Zac’s own pro-Brexit views will be targeted as ruthlessly as his controversial London Mayoral campaign tactics, his Bollywood brain fade and unfamiliarity with using the Tube in central London. He’s very popular locally, so the Lib Dem hopes of getting a Witney swing (where they were not facing any incumbency factor) may be overdone. Zac’s wealth, like his former non-dom status, doesn’t much bother his constituents, even though he will need lots of his own lolly (£240k on one estimate) to defend the seat.

    Yet the Lib Dems’ most powerful weapon of all is the message to voters that axeing Zac will slash May’s slender majority – and his replacement would use any Parliamentary vote to oppose ‘hard’ Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn may or may not relish the fact that defeat for Zac would give Theresa May real pause for thought about a snap election next year.

    Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney will be delighted that she’s on the front page of the Times today, protesting against Heathrow alongside former Richmond Park MP Susan Kramer. Still, I’m not sure it was wise for the local party to tweet pix of Olney alongside Kramer’s predecessor Jenny Tonge (who no longer takes the Lib Dem whip after remarks about Israel).
    The Waugh Zone 26/10/16

  8. Mr David Penson

    I agree Mike, this is not Democracy, if the Labour party is not happy with our first past the post system , they should come out and say so, not engage in some under hand stitch up with the Liberal Democrats to subvert the voting intensions of the electorate, what is the matter with Labour these days , do they no longer have the guts to articulate their views any more ? Wake up and start talking to ordinary people again before its too late. David Penson Bracknell

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I don’t think this is part of any FPTP/PR debate and wonder why you have mentioned it.

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