Its fascinating listening and watching the analysis taking place in the broadcast media, to be quickly followed by the print media over the outcome of the Richmond Park by-election. The fact that the electors who 18 months ago elected Zac Goldsmith with an eye watering majority of 23,000 and a total of 34,400 votes have almost halved his vote to less than 19,000 raises all sorts of issues regarding what people felt they were doing both now and then. Mr Goldsmith who was clearly popular in 2015 having already served as the local MP since 2010 attempted to suggest he was an Independent during this campaign, doing as he had promised if the decision for a Heathrow expansion was made. However the Tories did not put up a candidate which shows that they did not see him as a threat to their tiny majority, and he was interviewed during the campaign and refused to say if he would rejoin the party in the future. His Tory-lite approach meant that anyone wanting to vote for him as a sitting MP or wanting to vote for someone who was in effect a Tory, albeit one who was opposed to the expansion of Heathrow would see no difference compared to what they had experienced over the last 6 years.
Nevertheless several things have changed since 2015. The rather miserable and racist campaign that Goldsmith fought over the London Mayoral election was clearly a factor for some. Equally the fact that he was willing to stand in that election to replace Boris Johnson which would have triggered a by-election would have impacted others who may well have felt let down by this decision. These two issues are elements on top of the concern that some residents would have had over his action and that of the Conservatives making the whole thing look like a mucky deal. Then of course there is the factor that Brexit injects into the equation, along with the way the Tories responded to the referendum.
The idea that voting for a local MP will change national issues is deeply flawed, the slightly smaller majority on the Tory benches will make their task harder, but only a little. The impact on the Lib Dems will help them to repair some of the damage done to their reputation. The Labour party on paper appear to have done very badly so they have nothing to be happy about. However MPs are local representatives before they are National statistics and actors. Why reject a tried and trusted? MP and replace them with someone who has only been a member of her Political party for 14 months? It is clear that the complex nature of our representative democracy needs. My own view as expressed a few weeks ago was that the honourable thing for Goldsmith to do was not to stand, but instead to step down from Parliament altogether. It would appear that is his future after all!