WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE RICHMOND BY-ELECTION?

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by Chris Jarvis

Last Thursday, failed London Mayoral candidate and prominent racist Zac Goldsmith became the first incumbent MP since 1986 to lose their seat in a by-election, having triggered the vote in the constituency by resigning in protest at the decision of the Government led by his own party to commit to building a third runway at Heathrow airport. Overturning a 23,000 majority, the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney won the seat of Richmond Park and will now become the ninth MP for the party.

The constituency is a strange one. Mostly highly affluent and nestled in the blur between London and Surrey, its electorate voted overwhelmingly to continue Britain’s membership of the European Union. The seat has swung between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in multiple elections. Election turnout is frequently substantially higher than average. Falling under the flightpath of the airport, it’s one of the few constituencies where a single local issue dominates much of the political debate.Continue Reading

ALLIANCES, AMBITIONS AND ARGUMENTS: WHY WE DON’T HAVE WIDESPREAD ELECTORAL PACTS

by James Anthony

The concept of progressive political parties working together in some form to beat right-wing parties in elections sounds like a great, simple idea – and it certainly isn’t a new one. Standing down in a constituency to avoid ‘splitting the vote’ has been thought about and even practiced formally as early as 1903 in British politics in the hope of bringing down Tory majorities in elections. With the current Tory administration enjoying a majority in the Commons and very promising polling data, progressive forces on the left have again started talking about entering into some sort of alliance. However, it rarely seems to get put into practice, at least not nationally.Continue Reading