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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2016

Conservatives humiliated in Richmond - but socialist voice needed

Tory 'independent' Zac Goldsmith is out - but a Lib Dem in his place is hardly an improvement, photo by Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)

Tory 'independent' Zac Goldsmith is out - but a Lib Dem in his place is hardly an improvement, photo by Policy Exchange (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Chris Newby, Socialist Party London

Zac Goldsmith's humiliating defeat in the Richmond Park byelection was equally a defeat for Theresa May and the Tories. Her already weak government has seen its majority cut to 13.

Goldsmith stood down as a Tory MP following the government's decision to back a third runway at Heathrow. Although Goldsmith was nominally standing as an independent, the Tories didn't stand a candidate against him.

He was clearly still seen as a Tory, and specifically an anti-EU Tory. The Lib Dem Sarah Olney, seen as the main Remain candidate, managed to overturn a 23,015-vote majority to win the seat.

Much as Goldsmith tried to make this a referendum on the third runway at Heathrow, it was clearly largely a vote against Brexit.

Richmond upon Thames, the borough which covers most of the constituency, has the second-highest average income in London. Part of Kingston upon Thames, in the top third, makes up the rest. 69% of Richmond Park voters backed Remain.

Goldsmith will also have had a certain amount of payback for his extremely racist campaign in this year's London mayoral election.

The Green Party did not contest the seat in favour of the Lib Dems. The Greens claim to be anti-austerity, yet are prepared to back a party that spent five years in coalition with Tories carrying through brutal cuts.

Worse still, some Labour MPs called for the Labour Party not to stand. This included Clive Lewis, a leading figure in pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum.

Jeremy Corbyn's critics will use the fact Labour lost its deposit due to low votes as another chance to attack his anti-austerity leadership. But this is home ground for the Tories and Liberals.

And for working class voters and new Labour members in the area, the Labour candidate, railway columnist Christian Wolmar, was hardly inspiring. Although previously a Corbyn supporter, he backed Owen Smith in 2016.

What was lacking in this byelection was a candidate who could use the platform to put forward a socialist alternative to EU, Tory and Liberal austerity.

Such a candidate still might not have won in Richmond Park, but could have helped galvanise anti-austerity voters to join the fight against the cuts.

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In The Socialist 7 December 2016:


What we think

No more concessions to Labour right!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight for a socialist Brexit

Conservatives humiliated in Richmond

Newham council to sack up to 1,300

Slump in unfair dismissal cases - scrap tribunal fees!

Workers can fight Uber-style care

Compensation disabled

Them & Us


Food banks feature

Food banks and the real Daniel Blakes


NHS crisis and fightback

NHS: Stop the Tory vandals

Hundreds protest the decimation of Devon NHS

Massive support in Stoke for action to save the NHS

Health campaigners in Yorkshire protest "slash and trash plans"


International socialist news and analysis

Victory at Standing Rock: US authorities agree to re-route oil pipeline

Spain: Government forced back by Student Union mobilisations

Italy: Establishment routed - workers alternative needed

Portugal: No to witch-hunts - fight the capitalists not socialists

Austria: Far right temporarily halted

Sudan: General strike in defiance of regime


Socialist Party workplace news

Durham TAs force Labour to suspend pay cuts

Protest against Glasgow Labour's scab workforce plan to defeat Unison strike

Crossrail action in defence of victimised union rep

Unison members barely earning the living wage in some universities

Sacked bakers' union rep Kumaran Bose calls for living wage 'protection'

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bolton council gives £300k to solicitors while making swingeing cuts

Reading TUSC writes to Labour councillors to demand cuts fight


John Sharpe: 1953-2016

Obituary: John Sharpe: 1953-2016


 

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