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