The Government’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow has unsurprisingly resulted in a Richmond Park by-election. With Zac Goldsmith standing down from the Conservative Party on Tuesday to fight his seat as an independent, there’s an opportunity for Labour to contest another seat … or not as it turns out.
Those on the Labour frontbench have suggested that a Labour candidate not be put forward, to allow the Lib Dems a shot at winning the seat. After all, they did come second there in the last general election, while Labour stumbled into third place for the Richmond Park seat. The higher echelons of the Party, such as Clive Lewis (Shadow Business Secretary) and Jonathan Reynolds (Shadow City Minister), want Labour to think of the bigger picture and the ‘national interest’ by doing what they can to reduce the Tory majority, I.E, Go Lib Dems, Go!
This political game of chess isn’t sitting well with everyone in the Party. Tom Watson, Deputy Leader, has expressed his concern that Labour should be contesting every seat rather than attempting to manoeuvre the electorate. But Lewis and Reynolds have both already said they are open and keen on the idea of alliances with other parties to contest certain seats to up Labour’s chances of electoral victory in the future.
This election battle-cry would need to be endorsed by the local CLP (constituency Labour Party) formulating an understanding with the Lib Dems that tactics such as this is a two way street. We scratch your back and you scratch ours to help reduce the 12 seat majority the Tories currently have. Party politics in this instance has trumped local politics as Labour clearly want Goldsmith out of Parliament – his campaign against Sadiq Khan in the Mayoral race may be coming round to kick him once again.