++ BREAKING NEWS: Heathrow decision


As expected, the Government has favoured the expansion of Heathrow, over its rival Gatwick.

The Transport Minister will make an announcement at about 12.30pm today, but the BBC reports that the decision was approved by a Cabinet Committee earlier this morning.

The political interest in this will be to see how many Conservatives speak out against the decision.  Ministers will be allowed to state their opposition to the plans, but have to get permission from the Prime Minister first – these will include Justine Greening and Boris Johnson.

Down in Richmond all eyes are on Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park. He has said on a number of occasions that he will resign as an MP if Heathrow gets the go-ahead. He reiterated his promise again last week, and wrote:

There is no doubt that despite huge gains against the Liberal Democrats in west London in recent years, the Conservative Party would be badly damaged in the event that Heathrow gets a green light.

Richmond Park was, of course, held by Liberal Democrats until 2010.

It is widely believed that the airport decision was postponed from before Christmas because Zac Goldsmith was running for London Mayor.

According to some media reports he won’t actually resign for another year, and will wait until the final decision is taken by Parliament, but today’s Sun claims that he is ready to hand in his resignation today. There have also been reports that he will stand as an Independent and that the local Conservative party has agreed to back him. He is supported by Dr Tania Mathias, the MP for neighbouring Twickenham (formerly Vince Cable’s constituency)

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Conor McGovern 25th Oct '16 - 11:18am

    We could do worse than having Vince stand in Richmond Park.

  • Conor – Sarah Olney has already been selected for the constituency. Neither Vince nor Ed Davey (who lost the two adjacent constituencies) put their names forward.

  • They we will huff and puff and eventually build Heathrow; and they wonder why people are becoming disconnected from politics.

  • Richard Easter 25th Oct '16 - 11:56am

    Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign was putter gutter politics, which is a shame as he is one of the few Tories that genuinely had a few reasonable ideas – such as his environmentalism and MP recall bill. I hope he is as principled as he seemed to be, previous to the mayoral farce, and stands down. Richmond Park would do well with a Lib Dem MP.

  • Mary – On the Vince point, he didn’t put his name up as much because he put his name back up for Twickenham I believe.

    Not that I’m saying we should change.

  • So, as Boris Johnson has oreviously said he would lie down in front of the bulldozers, can we assume that he will be as consistent as usual and now celebrate this decision (assuming it is good or his career)?

    Looks like we were exactly right to have an action day planned for Saturday in Richmond Park — Lizz Leffman did a super job in Witney and it would be great if we could follow in that direction.

  • Did Vince Cable and Ed Davey voluntarily decide not to apply for selection or were they excluded on grounds of gender?

  • Melissa – Richmond Park was not an All Women Shortlist. It makes sense for them to stand in their previous seats where they are well-known and where the Tory majorities are far less than in Richmond Park.

  • Zac has announced that he will be standing down just as soon as he has talked with his constituency executive committee.

  • Conor McGovern 25th Oct '16 - 12:22pm

    Mary – fair enough. I’ll have to do some research on our candidate then, if a by-election rears its head.

  • In Richmond Park constituency the EURef split was REMAIN 72% LEAVE 28%.
    It is an absolute dream by-election for the Lib Dems, if you don’t win this you might as well throw the towel in.

  • Vince must not be the candidate. What does it say if a strong woman candidate is selected as PPC, and then shoved aside at the first opportunity to let an older man take the opportunity? No-one would believe he was able to stand again in 2020 either.

  • Can people stop hyperventilating about the candidate, that was settled months ago & shes great.
    Anyone have a good idea of when it will be called ? I presume that May will want it as soon as possible but there could be problems withe Local Party, some want to back Zac.

  • I agree with Gordon, if Sarah Olney was selected through an open contest then there is no reason to deselect her. However, just as the Conservatives did at Witney; Vince, Ed and other senior LibDem’s need to be seen to be out canvassing and thus supporting Sarah Olney.

  • lloyd harris 25th Oct '16 - 12:59pm

    Normal by-election process starts from scratch regardless who the PPC is. So the whole thing is normally run again. I my view with 8 male MPs we could do with someone who is a credible candidate that brings some diversity to our MPs if they were elected.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Oct '16 - 1:00pm

    When Norman Baker MP was transport minister I asked him about traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick. The helicopter link had been abandoned, at least partly because of the noise. Despite widening of parts of the M25 to four lanes Heathrow causes traffic which does not intend to go to Heathrow to back up into traffic jams and variable speed limits. Going to Witney included M25 south and M40.
    Norman Baker replied that a fast rail link might be possible as part of HS2.
    Even now HS2 is not intended to go to Edinburgh or Aberdeen, hence SNP support for Heathrow.
    My wife woke up today from an actual nightmare. She had dreamed that the government had decided for Gatwick.
    This is a massive opportunity for firms to sell triple glazing, for sound insulation as well as heat and draught-proofing. Despite reputations for aggressive selling the product has usually been good, and increasingly competitive on pricing. To what extent will the government be financing sound-proofing under flightpaths?
    Zac Goldsmith MP tweeted that he would consult his constituents, but he actually consulted his local Tory party executive about a by-election.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Oct '16 - 1:04pm

    Did the PM delay the Heathrow decision until after the Witney result?

  • paul barker 25th Oct '16 - 1:07pm

    @Lloyd Harris. Usually Byelections come as a surprise. We have known Richmond was coming for years, the only doubt was the exact timing. The fact that our Candidate is already in place & working on the ground should be an advantage.

  • Stephen Howse 25th Oct '16 - 1:08pm

    If the party is smart, it will turn this into a mini-referendum on Europe.

    The constituency voted 72% Remain – 28% Leave.

    If Zac runs again, his anti-Heathrow stance is stronger than ours (not that we should be opposing it anyway, but that’s by the by). He resigned on the issue, for one thing.

    But he campaigned and voted to leave the EU, against the wishes of most of his constituents.

    That is where he is vulnerable and that is where we can win this by-election.

    Not by campaigning hard on an issue where everyone on the ballot will be on the same page anyway.

  • Looks like Boris isn’t the only Conservative capable of saying one thing and then committing to the opposite…


    Other papers are also carrying this story including comments on Conservative Home …

    Full text of the webpage:

  • Lloyd Harris – the PPC selection process for a possible snap general election validates their candidacy until sometime next year. So there is no need for a new selection for this constituency, and the members in Richmond Park were well aware of the possibility of a by-election when they selected Sarah. She is outstanding.

  • Simon mcgrath 25th Oct '16 - 2:54pm

    @mary,i dont think thats right. We had a ppc selected in Witney but they lost to Liz at the by election selection. So sarah is not yet the by election candidate

  • Ian Patterson 25th Oct '16 - 7:42pm

    Tories not contesting seat.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Oct '16 - 8:27pm

    I never liked Zac Goldsmith. I remember him from a Lib Dem Conference fringe event with Paddy Ashdown in 2000 or 2001. Son of Goldfinger came across as a Russell Brand type, with no coherent philosophy except smashing the “system” (but presumably leaving something for his rich chums). So he’s a pseud, a type I’ve always disapproved of, and I would never have been one of those liberal-minded voters who vote for Zac thinking he’s an environmentally-minded liberal. It does rankle with me that many people have fallen for his liberal image. However, we have now his disgraceful Mayoral election campaign as proof of just how fake his small-L liberal credentials are. We must not let him get away with portraying himself as a liberal when he tried to win an election by deliberately falsely portraying his opponent as an Islamist. Scratch the surface of this phoney liberal and underneath is a true-blue Tory.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Oct '16 - 8:49pm

    The issue for the party is can we go toe-to-toe with a Tory-backed operation when we are not the underdog, and expected to do well?

    What level of dirty tricks will Goldsmith stoop to, and is Mr Crosby on his way London-ward?

  • Simon McGrath – I think you are correct, and I had misunderstood. It seems the constituency does have to go through another selection process

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