Oh Deer

A year ago, the Richmond Park election would have been a shoo-in for Zac Goldsmith. The recent by-election was precipitated by him standing down over the Government’s stance on Heathrow – a gesture that one might have thought would resonate well with his electorate. However, as an independent, his share of the vote dropped from 58% (2015) to 45%, perhaps damaged by his recent shot at the Mayoralty. But the real story is the resurgence of the Lib Dems (19% to 49%). This was never a Labour seat (3%), although it highlights Labour’s challenge. With the Corbyn-led opposition looking weak, there is the prospect of its voters defecting to the Liberals in the South and UKIP in the North. Whilst at first glance this result looks to be a damaging Brexit-led backlash for the Conservatives (Richmond was almost 70% to Remain, and Goldsmith was for Leave), the pluralism of the electorate’s response might, in fact, support their continued tenure, (Conservatives 75% likely to win next General Election).