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Ten questions about the Richmond Park by-election

November 1, 2016 12:02 PM
By Mary Reid in Liberal Democrat Voice

Sarah Olney

1. What is the correct name for the constituency? That question we can answer. The constituency is called Richmond Park. But all the parties seem to refer to it locally as Richmond Park and North Kingston, because it is easy to forget that four of its wards lie within Kingston Borough rather than Richmond Borough.

2. How posh is Richmond Park? Well someone did have the task of delivering our tabloid to a certain Royal elector who actually lives inside the park - you can't get much posher than that. But the constituency also includes council-owned estates and relatively modest housing in well-established communities, as well as large secluded private houses. In Richmond itself the average house price is not far short of £900k.

3. Zac Goldsmith has resigned as an MP, as he had promised to do if the Government backed the expansion of Heathrow. Has he resigned from the Conservative party as well? No-one seems to know.

4. If re-elected what would the Conservatives consider a suitable period of purdah before admitting him back into the Parliamentary group again?

5. The website for the Richmond Park and North Kingston Conservatives still carries the strapline "Supporting Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park constituency". What exactly does that mean?

6. The Executive Council of the local Conservative Association does explain that it supports the decision by the party's national leadership not to field a candidate, and claims that "The Association and its resources will not play a part in this by-election." Can we therefore assume that Goldsmith will not have access to all the local party's data on voting intentions that would have been accumulated during his election campaigns and incumbency? Or to any of its office space or equipment? Or to its staff?

7. Why did Labour NEC ignore the very sensible suggestion from three of its senior MPs Clive Lewis , Lisa Nandy and Jonathan Reynolds that Labour should not contest the seat? As they said:

(Zac Goldmsith's) claim that this is a referendum on Heathrow is absurd as his chief opponent also opposes a third runway. This is nothing but a vanity project and Labour should think carefully about playing a part in it.

8. Oddly enough it looks as though there may be two Conservative members contesting the election, both as Independents. The other one is prolific tweeter Fiona-Natasha Syms, who is pro-Heathrow (hat-tip to Mark Pack). So does this mean that Goldsmith's attempt to turn this into a referendum on Heathrow will end up as yet another internal spat between two Tories?

9. UKIP has vowed not to field a candidate and has endorsed Goldsmith. Will this help or hinder his chances?

10. Finally, how can you help our outstanding candidate, Sarah Olney? That's easy - click here.

* Mary Reid is the Monday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.