Many politicians briefly sparkle before being engulfed in failure, disappointment and anonymity. Zac Goldsmith is another name to add to this list, says Peter Bingle.

The morning after the Richmond Park by-election and the reaction of most people will surely be: “What a complete waste of time, money and effort!”

The political career of a maverick Tory MP who briefly promised so much but in reality always disappointed is over. Rather like Dorian Gray it is the tragedy of beauty. He might have achieved so much more if he was plain!

The by-election was caused because Goldsmith kept his promise that he would resign if the Government endorsed a third runway at Heathrow. Keeping to his promise (a rare thing in politics) does the man credit but unfortunately most of his constituents cared much more about registering a protest vote over Brexit than the Government’s aviation policy.

It is hard to deny that the by-election became a mini referendum on Brexit. On that basis, it is surprising the vote was so close. On 23rd June, the wealthy voters of this totally atypical constituency massively voted to stay in the EU. There are very few ‘just about managing’ voters in Richmond!

The government will rightly ignore the supposed political implications of this by-election. The Lib Dems will proclaim a new political dawn, but the reality is very different. Until 2010 this was a Lib Dem seat so it has merely reverted to type. Richmond voters simply do not have the day-to-day worries experienced by ordinary folk.

The real winners of the by-election are not the Lib Dems but the backers of a third runway at Heathrow. A by-election caused to put the third runway in the public spotlight has done nothing of the sort. The campaign against the additional runway is now likely to dissipate and falter.

There are so many examples of politicians who briefly sparkle before disappearing. They are then engulfed by failure, disappointment and anonymity. This morning there is a new name on the list of losers: Zac Goldsmith.

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