Tim Farron reacts to UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith

Following UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election, Tim Farron commented:

Zac Goldsmith claimed Brexit has nothing to do with this by-election. The very public endorsement he has picked up from the party of Nigel Farage nails that lie.

Zac Goldsmith was already the Conservative Party candidate. Now he is also the UKIP candidate. His campaign is the Nigel and Zac show.

UKIP’s website expressly states that it is vital for supporters of Hard Brexit to defeat the Liberal Democrats in Richmond Park, and praises Zac Goldsmith for being ‘fully committed to getting Britain out of the European Union’.

This by-election presents a golden opportunity to defeat one of the leading Brexiteers who is determined to even take Britain out of the Single Market. He might be able to afford the huge damage this would do to our economy, but many people in Richmond Park are worried about the effect on their jobs and livelihoods as a result of the Conservative government playing Russian roulette with the British economy.

Zac Goldsmith can get as many hard-right candidates to give him a clear run as he likes: he knows he faces a major battle with a Liberal Democrat party determined to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

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  • Quite possibly the most stupid thing UKIP could have done under the circumstance, as it is excellent fodder for us to squeeze soft Tory votes with.

  • Perfect!

  • Malcolm Todd 27th Oct '16 - 7:41pm

    I suspect UKIP are worried about being humiliated in a very pro-Remain constituency whilst they are in the middle of a very public meltdown, and are using Goldsmith’s Brexitism (is that a thing yet?) as an excuse to stay out of it. They probably won’t do anything much to support him, so it’s unlikely to put any Tories off as such. (Doesn’t stop our candidate using it against him, of course, as much as you like.)

  • Richard Underhill 27th Oct '16 - 7:57pm

    Was it in 2010 or 2015 that Channel 4 thought there were problems with his expenses?

  • 2010. He was cleared by the Electoral Commission at their most spineless. I do wonder whether the Labour Party fine may be a precursor to action by the Commission on the 34 Tory constituencies in 2015 that stand accused of over-spending.

  • paul barker 27th Oct '16 - 9:03pm

    I was there this afternoon & its a lovely place, lots of autumn leaves, clouds of parakeets & a gorgeous sunset. I reccomend it to everyone who can get there. Lets all have fun & stop Brexit.

  • This is excellent news. Didn’t realise that Ukip had endorsed Zac Goldsmith. I might even consider renewing my lapsed Ukip membership for a couple of years.?

    Zac,.. is a bit of a posh boy for sure, but I think he sort of,.. gets it.? His re-call of MPs idea was absolutely spot on. Of course Nick Clegg was his greatest enemy, which makes Zac all the more alluring.?

    If I get the time I might even go down to help out Zac in his efforts to make a difference,…. just for the hell of it.
    Good luck in Richmond.

  • Philip Rolle 27th Oct '16 - 10:41pm

    If this doesn’t make Tim confident enough to commit one of the big guns, nothing will.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Oct '16 - 8:44am

    @ JDunn,
    Zac Goldsmith may have been correct on the Recall Bill, but so was Caroline Lucas, and she ‘got it earlier than Goldsmith.

  • I think the biggest problem is not Zac Goldsmith – he’s damaged goods after his London Mayor campaign – it’s whether you can handle being joint favourites to win the seat. A seat with a large remain majority, that you have won in three out of the last five elections is as good as it gets for the Lib Dems. The pressure is on, it will be interesting to see how Tim Farron and the party handle it.

  • MQBlogger: Not always. Bruce Douglas-Mann lost to the Conservatives when he resigned to seek re-election after switching from Labour to the SDP in 1982 (generating that rarest of rare political events, a by-election gain by a governing party). There aren’t actually many other examples. The two Tory MPs who defected to UKIP and successfully defended their seats in by-elections were riding the crest of a wave of popularity of their new party. Zac Goldsmith might have been able to rely on a personal vote, but his Mayoral campaign and result (particularly in his own constituency) suggests he may have squandered this.

    Brexit is bound to be a bigger issue than Heathrow. As the Lib Dems also oppose Heathrow airport expansion, we are going to push Brexit in our campaign. The Heathrow decision cannot be considered in isolation anyway.

  • Apparently 73% of constituencies voted to leave the EU but 73% of MPs wanted to remain. [Garry Gibbon C4 News]. Also, there is no appetite for another referendum or any sign that if another was held – the result would be any different.

    If this is true – is there any long-term benefit to the Party to focus its efforts on trying to reverse this decision


    If you believe something is right then yes it is right to fight for it. If the electorate voted to mandate we all jumped off a cliff, would you still argue we shouldn’t campaign against it even if it was at ” particularly at the expense of an environmental issue”; by the way wanting to remain in the EU does more for environmental issues than will be done once we are out.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Oct '16 - 11:21am

    Polling day is Thursday 1 December 2016. 7 am – 10 pm.
    There will be an election special on BBC TV this time, which there was not for Witney.
    Weather is good at the moment.
    People often ask “What is the best time to go?”
    Please do not think about it too much.
    The correct answer is “Early”.

  • paul barker 28th Oct '16 - 2:03pm

    The London Evening Standard has published the 1st Poll of the campaign & we are up 10% before we start, broadly in line with our performance in Local byelections.
    My guess is that this will be the last Poll The Standard publishes as their desire for News is overtaken by their wish to protect Zac. Certainly We should expect Tory leaflets to keep republishing this Poll as though it were new. We should keep an eye out for new Polls which, mysteriously, never arrive in The Media.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Oct '16 - 2:12pm

    Betfare have Goldsmith 51% and us 49% ! (according to Mike Smithson)- great campaign material,that.

  • John Roffey

    I suggust you read


    just a snippet

    Once we have ‘left’ the EU, we may well find it even harder than it is today to hold the Government to account on, say, urban air quality or the state of our bathing beaches.

    This whole question of how to replace the EU-derived supranational element in the current rule-book with an effective alternative, is surely something for the Law Commission to look at urgently, if it is not already doing so.

    and that’s from a Tory

  • John Roffey,

    Some more light reading, Point 2 makes a good point


    That the government won’t be held to account on its own commitments

    We now know the government’s intention is for the UK to no longer be subject to the European Court of Justice. Post Brexit the UK will therefore need its own independent empowered institutions to hold government to account on its own legal commitments. ClientEarth’s legal challenge against the government on its failure to meet air quality standards, which has been linked to the early deaths of 40,000 UK citizens every year, shows only too well the need for strong and independent checks on government.

  • If we assume similar vote changes in Richmond Park to those in Witney, we get a tie with both Tories & us around 40% or a little more. Its right on the edge & what each of us does could tip that balance.

  • John Roffey
    The question is really not so much about acceptance of the referendum but what kind of access Britain will have to the single market.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Oct '16 - 7:57am

    That poll, of course, accompanies a soft-focus puff piece on Zac in yesterday’s Evening Standard. Taken in the immediate aftermath of his publicity-stunt resignation, perhaps it would be expected to show him to be popular. But it’s only the start of the campaign and there is all to play for. Lib Dems have taken seats in by-elections starting at much lower levels of support.

  • Nick Collins 29th Oct '16 - 10:11am

    Exactly, Alex Macfie. That poll is not a bad place from which to start at this stage in a by-election.

    The Evening Standard also quoted Goldsmith as saying something to the effect that he wanted the by-election to focus on Heathrow and that the LibDems would not divert it into a debate about Brexit. If that’s what he wants, he should not have accepted endorsement from UKIP; he can’t have it both ways. Tim Farron’s comment is spot on.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Oct '16 - 1:54pm

    John Roffey: Doing well in by-elections is PART of working to increase our national poll rating. Lib Dems tend to spike in opinion polls immediately after a by-election victory, then fall back but to slightly higher than they were before. We currently have the classic mid-term problem that voters tend to forget we exist. However, local by-election results show that we can do well when we campaign and the Lib Dems are put to voters as an option on the ballot paper. This is also why we tend to substantially increase our local poll rating during a parliamentary by-election campaign, and (less spectacularly) our national poll rating during a general election campaign. This did not work in the 2010–2015 Parliament, because then we were part of the government, and people knew we existed and knew they didn’t want to vote for us. But now we are back in opposition, the old rules are tending to apply once again.
    I don’t know where you get the 30 seats from. A general election is not likely any time soon, and any prediction is therefore pretty pointless (this is also why national opinion poll ratings have little significance right now). What we can say is that there is absolutely no point in Lib Dems occupying the already crowded Hard-Brexit-is-inevitable territory. It would not be convincing and would mean that voters who did not want hard Brexit (or any Brexit) would not have any voice. We increase our level of support by campaigning on the policies we actually believe in. And part of this campaigning is working frantically in parliamentary by-elections, since these provide the publicity needed to demonstrate on a national level that we still exist

  • Alex Macfie 29th Oct '16 - 5:01pm

    John Roffey: We have not had a Lib Dem parliamentary by-election victory in this Parliament yet, so there is no way that any polling evidence since the latest GE can confirm or refute what I wrote about how our polls are affected. And again, national opinion polls are not a very reliable indicator of a party’s standing at this stage in the electoral cycle, especially where the Liberal Democrats are concerned. Votes in actual electoral contests matter a lot more, as they reflect party strength on the ground where elections are actually being fought. BTW I have not looked at your link. I don’t have to for the reason I have just given.
    Adopting a Hard Brexit stance? Why would the Lib Dems want to adopt something that is similar to UKIP and Tory policy? Again it would not be convincing because it is not what the Lib Dems believe in, and it would alienate most of those voters who might consider voting for us. You forget that beside “Hard Brexit” and “Soft Brexit” supporters , there is another group, “No Brexit”, which only the Lib Dems (and perhaps also Greens) are making any effort to woo. Why would we not want to attract the votes of “the 48%” whom no-one else in the political mainstream is making any sort of attempt to woo, when it is exactly what we believe in? And you suggest that we should adopt a policy that puts us in an already crowded political territory, among company we really do not want to be associated with?!? I don’t know whether you simply misunderstand the Lib Dem party and its vote, or you are trying to give duff advice. The latter is possible as I really doubt you wish the Lib Dems well, so it’s probably best to just ignore your suggestions about the best electoral strategy for us. Another possibility, of course, is that you want to drive all parties towards the anti-EU side, and make sure there is no pro-EU voice in UK politics.

  • Alex Macfie 29th Oct '16 - 6:44pm

    You don’t get to decide what cannot be changed John Roffey. Part of politics is to seek to change things.

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