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Richmond Park by-election, 2016

The Richmond Park by-election was a UK parliamentary by-election in the constituency of Richmond Park which was held on 1 December 2016.[1][2] It was triggered by the resignation of the Conservative Member of Parliament Zac Goldsmith on 25 October 2016 over the Government's proposal for a third runway at the nearby Heathrow Airport. It was won by Sarah Olney of the Liberal Democrats, after a campaign focused on opposition to Brexit.

Richmond Park
by-election, 2016

← 2015 1 December 2016 2017 →

Richmond Park constituency
  First party Second party
  Sarah Olney Zac Goldsmith
Candidate Sarah Olney Zac Goldsmith
Party Liberal Democrat Independent
Popular vote 20,510 18,638
Percentage 49.7% 45.2%
Swing Increase30.4% Decrease13.1%

RichmondPark2007Constituency.svg
Location of Richmond Park within London

MP before election

Zac Goldsmith
Conservative

Elected MP

Sarah Olney
Liberal Democrats

Contents

BackgroundEdit

When first elected in the 2010 general election and on several subsequent occasions, Goldsmith had promised that he would resign if the government supported a third runway at Heathrow.[3] Following his re-election in the 2015 general election, he stood as the Conservative candidate in the 2016 London Mayoral election, and lost to Sadiq Khan.

When the May ministry announced on 25 October 2016 that the government would support a third runway at Heathrow, Goldsmith resigned his seat.[3]

CandidatesEdit

Goldsmith stood as an independent candidate.[4][5] He was described as an "Independent Conservative",[6] although that ballot paper description has not been permitted since the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 came into force.[7]

The Conservative Party decided not to stand an official candidate against him, because the local party were reported to be supportive of Goldsmith's stance, and putting up a candidate could have split the vote and led to the Liberal Democrats winning the seat.[8][9][10] While not officially backed by the Conservative Party, his campaign was supported by some Conservative Parliamentarians, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, a supporter of Heathrow expansion and Brexit,[11] as well as Tania Mathias,[12] Theresa Villiers,[12] and Lord True, leader of Richmond Council.[13] A leader for the Evening Standard described the Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, as having "endorsed" Goldsmith.[14] The local party's website carried contact details for those wanting to support his campaign.[15]

The Liberal Democrats confirmed Sarah Olney, who was selected to fight the constituency in the event of a snap election, as their candidate for the by-election on 30 October.[16] Olney joined the Liberal Democrats in May 2015, following the general election. She lives locally in North Kingston and works as an accountant at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington.[17] Her husband, Ben, was previously employed with the delivery of Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, ten years previously.[18][19]

The day after Goldsmith's resignation, three senior Labour Party MPs suggested that Labour could choose not to stand to maximise the chance of defeating Goldsmith in protest at his support for Brexit and his negative campaign against Sadiq Khan in the mayoral contest.[20] However, other Labour MPs rejected the suggestion,[21] and the party continued with the process of choosing a candidate.[22][23] On 5 November they selected Christian Wolmar,[24] a transport expert who had stood to be Labour's candidate for London Mayor, finishing fifth out of six candidates. He has opposed Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of Labour.[25] Wolmar defeated four other candidates for the nomination: Ellie Cumbo, a researcher at the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales; Barnaby Marder, a local activist backed by Momentum; Sachin Patel, a supermarket manager and Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers representative who contested the seat for Labour at the 2015 election; and Jessica Toale, who had been an advisor to Ivan Lewis MP.[26]

The Green Party leaders hinted that the party might not stand a candidate for fear of splitting the vote. However they stressed that it was for the local party to decide.[22][27] The party shares an anti-Brexit and anti-Heathrow expansion stance with the Liberal Democrats. On 2 November, the Richmond Green Party voted against standing a candidate and to back the Liberal Democrat candidate.[28] On 3 November, the Kingston Green Party did the same, and confirmed that there would not be a Green Party candidate in the by-election.[29][30]

The UK Independence Party, the only other party to stand in 2015, did not put forward a candidate and endorsed Goldsmith.[1][31]

The Women's Equality Party did not stand a candidate and backed Olney, in opposition to what they described as Goldsmith's record of "racist" campaigning.[32]

Fiona Syms stood as an independent, but said she would join the Conservatives if elected.[33] The 47-year old activist was critical of Goldsmith, describing his actions as a "tantrum" and saying he was "abandoning" Conservative voters. Syms described herself as a longstanding Conservative supporter, although she had left the party some time before the by-election was called. Syms was married to Conservative MP Robert Syms for 18 years and claims 25 years of experience in politics as a speechwriter, organiser and constituency worker.[34] She launched her campaign on 5 November.[35][36]

Regular by-election candidate Ankit Love stood for the One Love Party under his claimed title of Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir.[37]

CampaignEdit

This was the first UK by-election in which the Conservatives declined to field a candidate in a seat they held since the Bristol South East by-election in 1963, which was triggered to allow Tony Benn to regain the seat he was disqualified from holding upon his inheritance of the Stansgate viscounty.[38] Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke criticised the decision by the party not to stand.[39]

The Liberal Democrats also oppose a third runway at Heathrow.[27] They held the seat from 1997 until 2010, when Goldsmith won. They campaigned on an anti-Brexit position, noting Goldsmith's own support for Brexit whereas the area strongly voted for Remain in the 2016 EU membership referendum.[4][40][41] The constituency is estimated to have had a 72% support for Remain.[42] Goldsmith's Mayoral campaign is also expected to become a focal point of campaigning.[43] The Liberal Democrat campaign started quickly, with leader Tim Farron first visiting the constituency on 26 October.[21]

According to the Daily Mirror, bookmakers had Goldsmith as clear favourite, although the Liberal Democrats were favourite for a period.[44] Channel 4 reported senior Liberal Democrats think odds predicting the Liberal Democrats would do well have been over-stated.[21][45]

Goldsmith said on 28 October that he would be partly funding his campaign himself. He also did not rule out the possibility of re-joining the Conservative Party after the next general election.[46]

A poll released by BMG Research on 28 October showed Goldsmith on 56% of the vote to Olney's 29%. An as-yet unnamed Labour candidate attracted 11% of the vote, with the Green Party and UKIP tied on 2% each. Asked about the main issues in the election, respondents identified Brexit (25%), Goldsmith's records and views (22%), and Heathrow expansion (21%) as the main issues. Goldsmith supporters were more focused on his record and Heathrow, while Olney supporters focused on Brexit and the Conservative government's record. Labour supporters also identified Brexit as their main consideration. Overall, the poll found 60% opposition to the third runway at Heathrow, 25% support with 14% undecided.[47]

Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, launched Olney's campaign on 31 October/1 November, stressing the party's opposition to Heathrow.[34] He also argued that the Brexit decision, that Goldsmith supported, led to the decision to support Heathrow expansion.[48]

Labour candidate Christian Wolmar attracted attention for a proposal to ban toilet paper, moving instead to the "hands-free spray toilet" popular in Asia.[49][50]

An analysis by the King's Fund revealed that the south-west London National Health Service sustainability and transformation plan (STP) is considering cutting acute services at one of five hospitals, including Kingston Hospital, local to the constituency. The Liberal Democrats used this in campaigning to criticise the Conservative government.[51]

Olney was also endorsed by the More United campaign group.[52]

In the final weekend of the campaign, the Liberal Democrats released internal polling putting Goldsmith on 46.7%, the Liberal Democrats on 43.3% and Labour on 9.5%.[53] These figures were disputed: one Conservative MP, Kit Malthouse, a former deputy mayor of London, agreed the election was very close, but the Conservative leader of Richmond Council and Goldsmith ally, Lord True, predicted Goldsmith would do much better.[13]

In the final week of the campaign, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas campaigned for Olney, while some other local Green Party members were backing Wolmar instead.[54][55] Musician and poverty campaigner Bob Geldof also came to the constituency to campaign for Olney.[56] On 30 November, both Olney's and Goldsmith's campaign described the election as close, with the Liberal Democrats' internal polling putting them on 47.2% to Goldsmith's 45.8%.[57]

During the 2017 general election campaign, it emerged that the Greens had been offered £250,000 to not stand in the by-election, although the party did not take up the offer and denied it had influenced their decision.[58]

Opinion pollingEdit

Before close of nominationsEdit

This poll was conducted before nominations for the by-election closed and therefore includes two parties that opted not to stand: the Greens, who supported Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat candidate, and UKIP, who supported Zac Goldsmith.

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Goldsmith Olney
Con
Lab
Grn UKIP Other
BMG Research/The Evening Standard[47] 26–27 October 2016 543 Richmond
Park residents
56% 29% 11% 2% 2% 0%
34% 24% 20% 11% 5% 3% 1%

Following close of nominationsEdit

After the close of nominations, the only opinion polls released publicly were internal polls commissioned by the Liberal Democrats and shared with The Guardian.

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Goldsmith Olney
Wolmar
Liberal Democrat internal[59] 30 November 2016 Unknown 45.8% 47.2% 6.2%
Liberal Democrat internal[60] 26 November 2016 Unknown 46.7% 43.3% 9.5%

ResultEdit

By-election 2016: Richmond Park[61][62][63]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney 20,510 49.68 +30.41
Independent Zac Goldsmith 18,638 45.15 -13.06[n 1]
Labour Christian Wolmar 1,515 3.67 -8.67
Monster Raving Loony Howling Laud Hope 184 0.45 N/A
Independent Fiona Syms 173 0.42 N/A
Christian Peoples Dominic Stockford 164 0.40 N/A
One Love Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir 67 0.16 N/A
No label David Powell 32 0.08 N/A
Majority 1,872 4.53
Turnout 41,283 53.44 -23.01
Liberal Democrat gain from Conservative Swing +21.73[n 2]

This was the first time the Liberal Democrats had gained a seat in a House of Commons by-election since the 2006 Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, and their first gain from the Conservatives since the 2000 Romsey by-election. It was also the largest increase in vote share they had obtained in a by-election since the 1993 Christchurch by-election.

Six months later, Zac Goldsmith regained the seat in the 2017 general election.

Previous pollsEdit

2015 general electionEdit

General Election 2015: Richmond Park[64][65][66]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Zac Goldsmith 34,404 58.21 +8.5
Liberal Democrat Robin Meltzer 11,389 19.27 -23.5
Labour Sachin Patel 7,296 12.34 +7.3
Green Andrée Frieze 3,548 6.00 +5.0
UKIP Sam Naz 2,464 4.17 +3.0
Majority 23,015 38.94 +32.0
Turnout 59,101 76.5 -0.4
Conservative hold Swing +16.0

2016 EU referendum resultEdit

The results in the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 were reported by local authority, and, as the constituency consists of parts of two local authorities, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the exact referendum vote in Richmond Park is not known. However, Chris Hanretty, a Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, estimated through a demographic model that Richmond Park had one of the dozen lowest 'Leave' votes in the entire country.[42] His latest estimates suggest that 27.7% of Richmond Park voters voted 'Leave', and thus that 72.3% voted 'Remain'.[67]

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Compared to his vote share as a Conservative candidate at the previous election.
  2. ^ Calculated on the basis of the vote share for Zac Goldsmith as a Conservative at the previous election and as an independent at this election.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "UKIP backing Zac Goldsmith in by-election - BBC News". Bbc.co.uk. 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2016-11-29. 
  2. ^ "By-election date set after Zac Goldsmith resigns as Tory MP". Stv.tv. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Exclusive: Zac Goldsmith To Resign Over Heathrow". 
  4. ^ a b Elgot, Jessica; Mason, Rowena; Topham, Gwyn (25 October 2016). "Zac Goldsmith to resign as Tory MP after Heathrow go-ahead" – via The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Conservatives vow not to field candidate in by-election after MP quits". 25 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "If Zac Goldsmith is standing again, what is the point of his resignation? - Coffee House". 25 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  7. ^ Information on Registering a Political Party
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Michael (25 October 2016). "Zac Goldsmith immediately quits as Tory MP for Richmond Park in protest over Heathrow expansion". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "Zac Goldsmith resigns as Tory MP over Heathrow runway decision". Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  10. ^ October 25, 2016 17:38 BST (2016-10-25). "Richmond Park by-election: Tories face 'knife-edge' vote if they challenge Zac Goldsmith". Ibtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  11. ^ Silvera, Ian (16 November 2016). "Jacob Rees-Mogg disagrees with Zac Goldsmith over Heathrow – but here's why he is still backing him". 
  12. ^ a b Adam, Bienkov (10 November 2016). "Zac Goldsmith campaigns alongside pro-Heathrow Tory MP". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Lib Dems say they are close to pulling off upset against Zac Goldsmith". 28 November 2016. 
  14. ^ "Indulging Zac's games could come back to haunt PM - Matthew d'Ancona". 30 November 2016. 
  15. ^ Harris, John (28 November 2016). "Is a progressive alliance the only way to stop hard-right populism?" – via The Guardian. 
  16. ^ "Lib Dems' Sarah Olney to fight Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park byelection". 30 October 2016 – via The Guardian. 
  17. ^ "Sarah Olney - A fresh new voice for Richmond Park & North Kingston". libdems.org.uk. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  18. ^ "REVEALED: Richmond Park Lib Dem candidate's husband worked on Heathrow Terminal 5". 
  19. ^ "Richmond Park by-election candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sarah Olney go head-to-head in fierce debate". 
  20. ^ "Lewis, Nandy and Reynolds: Let's make this a referendum on Goldsmith, not Heathrow". LabourList. 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  21. ^ a b c Wednesday 26 Oct 2016 Can Zac Goldsmith hold back Lib Dems? (2016-10-26). "Can Zac Goldsmith hold back Lib Dems? | Gary Gibbon on Politics". Blogs.channel4.com. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  22. ^ a b Jessica Elgot. "Labour frontbenchers urge party not to contest Richmond Park byelection | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  23. ^ Paul Waugh Executive Editor, Politics, HuffingtonPost UK (2016-10-26). "Labour WILL Stand A Candidate In Richmond Park By-Election Despite Pleas To Step Aside For Lib Dems". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  24. ^ "Christian Wolmar to stand for Labour in Richmond Park by-election". 5 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  25. ^ PoliticsHome.com (6 November 2016). "EXCL Labour by-election candidate Christian Wolmar called on Jeremy Corbyn to quit". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "Richmond Park shortlist revealed - LabourList". 2 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  27. ^ a b October 27, 2016 14:23 BST. "Richmond Park by-election: Greens consider not standing in bid to defeat Zac Goldsmith". Ibtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  28. ^ Elgot, Jessica (2 November 2016). "NEW: Greens won't stand a candidate in Richmond Park - will back Lib Dems' @sarahjolney1". Twitter. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  29. ^ "Greens back Lib Dem candidate against Zac Goldsmith in byelection". The Guardian. 2016-11-04. Retrieved 2016-11-04. 
  30. ^ "Green Party stands down in Richmond Park by-election to avoid splitting anti-Tory vote". 4 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  31. ^ "UKIP backs Goldsmith on his Heathrow stance". UKIP. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  32. ^ "WE join Richmond alliance against racism". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  33. ^ "Labour picks transport expert Christian Wolmar to fight Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park by-election". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  34. ^ a b "Zac Goldsmith accused of Heathrow 'tantrum' by Tory MP's ex-wife". 31 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  35. ^ "Labour picks transport expert Christian Wolmar to fight Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park by-election". The Telegraph. 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-06. 
  36. ^ "@FionaSyms2016". 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2016-11-06 – via Twitter. 
  37. ^ "A Dogra bids to make it in UK politics – again". 1 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  38. ^ "Heathrow And The Turbulent Politics For The Tory Party". 25 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  39. ^ "Sarah Olney to fight Richmond by-election for Lib Dems". 30 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  40. ^ Read. "The LibDems will make the Richmond Park by-election into a referendum on Brexit | Coffee House". Blogs.spectator.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  41. ^ Silvera, Ian (15 November 2016). "Richmond Park residents more upset about Brexit than Heathrow, says Lib Dem hopeful". 
  42. ^ a b Hanretty, Chris (29 June 2016). "The EU referendum: how did Westminster constituencies vote?". Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  43. ^ "Who'll win the Richmond Park by-election?". Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  44. ^ Peston on Sunday, 30 October 2016, ITV
  45. ^ Allen, Gavin (2016-10-25). "Everything you need to know about Zac Goldsmith's resignation and what it means for the country - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  46. ^ PIPPA CRERAR, NIcholas Cecil. "Zac Goldsmith: I've not got a racist bone in my body, Sadiq Khan's team 'outplayed' us | London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  47. ^ a b "Evening Standard/BMG Constituency Poll: Richmond Park by-election voting intention and key issue results". bmgresearch.co.uk. 28 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  48. ^ "Nick Clegg: Zac flouncing out over Heathrow is just an empty gesture". 31 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  49. ^ PoliticsHome.com (6 November 2016). "Will next Labour manifesto include pledge to ban toilet paper? It could if Christian Wolmar becomes an MP". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  50. ^ "Labour's candidate in Richmond by-election wants to ban loo roll and doesn't use it at home". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  51. ^ "London hospital closure fears seized on in by-election campaign". 14 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  52. ^ "Richmond Park By-Election". 
  53. ^ Helm, Toby; Maguire, Patrick (26 November 2016). "Lib Dems eye pro-EU voters in final Richmond byelection push" – via The Guardian. 
  54. ^ "Heathrow Airport in row over secret recording of Richmond voter quiz". 29 November 2016. 
  55. ^ reporter, Jessica Elgot Political (28 November 2016). "Local Greens criticise Caroline Lucas over Richmond Park byelection" – via The Guardian. 
  56. ^ "Geldof joins the fray 'to fight for Britain'", Evening Standard, 30 Nov 2016, p. 4
  57. ^ "Zac Goldsmith hit by his own car on way to Richmond Park by-election hustings". Evening Standard. 30 November 2016. 
  58. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/11/greens-face-more-questions-over-250k-offer-not-to-stand-in-byelection
  59. ^ Jessica Elgot. "Lib Dems eye victory over Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park". The Guardian. 
  60. ^ Toby Helm; Patrick Maguire. "Lib Dems eye pro-EU voters in final Richmond byelection push". The Guardian. 
  61. ^ Donovan, Tim. "Tactics reduce candidates for Richmond Park by-election". BBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  62. ^ http://www.richmond.gov.uk/notice_of_poll_spn_sops_richmond_park_by_election_2016.pdf
  63. ^ "Election results for Richmond Park, 1 December 2016". 1 December 2016. 
  64. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  65. ^ "Election results for Richmond Park". 
  66. ^ "Richmond Park parliamentary constituency – Election 2015". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  67. ^ "Revised estimates of leave vote in Westminster constituencies". Retrieved 26 October 2016. 

External linksEdit