After his landslide victory just over a year ago Zac Goldsmith has thrown away 16,000 votes in his constituency, 34,000 to 18,000, losing approximately 47% of his support.
Just how does a star on the rise become a total wipe out?
Goldsmith garnered support in Richmond Park from the traditional LibDem voters as a young, environmentally friendly ‘nice’ guy billionheir; in many ways how the electorate in that leafy suburb like to view themselves. A staunchly LibDem seat since its formation in 1997, in 2010 Goldsmith boosted the Conservative vote by 50% to take the seat from the incumbent LibDem candidate representing an attractive liberal conservative politic and there were rumblings of Conservative Party leader potential.
In 2015 Goldsmith cemented his position with a 16% increase in his vote. The rumblings of his potential Conservative Party leadership potential rumbled on in the wake of the prior announcement by David Cameron that he would not lead the Conservatives into the 2020 election and seek a third term as Prime Minister.
… and then Goldsmith ran for the position of London Mayor, guided by the Tory campaign stalwart Lynton Crosby’s company. The attractive liberal conservative politics Goldsmith had been successfully building his career on were abandoned in favour of traditional Crosby tactics, resulting in Goldsmith running, what has been described as, one of the most despicably racist campaigns in British political history. In truth, it is a campaign from which his political career and personal reputation are unlikely to ever be revived.
Goldsmith lost the Mayoral election and the rumblings about him potentially leading the Conservative Party ceased; one presumes to the delight of older, less attractive Tory MPs who considered the crown of Conservative Party leader theirs to assume.
Time rolls on and Goldsmith continues in his role as MP for Richmond Park and, in his capacity as MP for Richmond Park, billionheir Goldsmith votes with the Tory government supporting their cuts to benefits for people with disabilities. The liberal conservative politic with which he sailed to political prominence cast aside in favour of the shroud of the Nasty Party.
The EU Referendum looms up and Goldsmith throws his hat in with Boris Johnson’s clown troupe behind the Leave campaign, Leave wins but Richmond Park vote to Remain by one of the largest margins in the country.
The crown has well and truly slipped and that, primarily, was all she wrote. The Tories tied the noose by backing the expansion to Heathrow, which Goldsmith had already pledged he would oppose, and then Goldsmith placed his political neck through the noose himself by resigning his seat and triggering a by-election. Goldsmith’s Conservative vote yesterday dropped to the second lowest in the seat’s history and he was defeated by the LibDem candidate who achieved the lowest LibDem vote in the seat’s history.
It is unlikely that Goldsmith has even an echo of a political career prospect now, let alone the potential to lead the Conservative Party. I wonder if some of those MPs who celebrated Goldsmith’s fall from grace, ushered in by the repugnant London Mayoral campaign, might have been cheering themselves a little too soon given the fallout of the Leave victory in the EU Referendum. Are they around to celebrate now and what of their ambitions to wear the crown?