Folly of a gamble backfired

A combination of arrogance and vanity brought Zac Goldsmith to his political knees in the Richmond Park by-election.
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

Goldsmith brought all this on himself. He squandered a 23,000 majority and added an unnecessary cash burden to the taxpayer by resigning from Parliament and forcing a by-election which need never have taken place.

He resigned as a Tory after the Government announced they would go ahead with a new runway at Heathrow Airport. He then quit Parliament, probably assuming, as most people did, that it would be nigh-on impossible for him to lose the by-election.

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Well, he miscalculated catastrophically. The by-election was fought on the Brexit issue and not the runway - and Goldsmith paid the price, which he fully deserved.

He says he will be back - but will he? Constituency Parties are unlikely to look favourably on would-be candidates for Parliament who do not stay and fight their corner, when their policies are rejected by the Government, but who instead involve themselves in theatrical gestures like resigning.

Goldsmith got his comeuppance - and he can blame no one but himself.

l I see the Prime Minister has appointed to 10, Downing Street an economic adviser, implying, rightly or wrongly, that her faith in the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, may not be 100 per cent. I trust she is fully aware there is a disturbing precedent to such action. When Margaret Thatcher used the economic guru Sir Alan Walters - who appeared to be in conflict with her own Chancellor, Nigel Lawson - it was an early stepping stone to her own downfall.

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Sir Alan described Lawson’s policies as “half-baked”. Lawson (pictured) was so incensed at this that he called on Thatcher to tell him to shut up and discard him. But she refused.

Neil Kinnock, the Labour leader at the time, said the country was being run by two Chancellors - and it was difficult to gainsay that.

But Lawson had had enough and resigned, a huge blow to Thatcher. It was an event which helped lead Mrs Thatcher to her political demise at the hands of her own party.