Goldsmith to choose green agenda over Tory policy

Conservative candidate would refuse to compromise his environmental principles

A A A

Zac Goldsmith, the multi-millionaire environmentalist who is standing as a Conservative at the next general election, said yesterday he would refuse to compromise his radical green views if he were elected – even if he were offered a job in a new government led by David Cameron.

Mr Goldsmith, 34, the former editor of The Ecologist magazine, said he would not alter his opposition to issues such as nuclear power, genetically modified crops and the expansion of London's Heathrow airport even if it meant him clashing with the official Tory position.

The son of the billionaire playboy Sir James Goldsmith is one of the Conservatives' highest-profile candidates, often characterised as a "glamorous green", and has a serious chance of being elected in his south-west London constituency of Richmond Park, at present held by the Liberal Democrats. His environmental expertise has brought him high-level involvement with the Tory policymaking process and there has been speculation that Mr Cameron might well offer him office in a new administration.

But asked if he would resign if he were a Cabinet minister and Mr Cameron changed tack, for instance, on Heathrow – at present the Tories are opposed to a new, third runway, in contrast to Labour – he said: "I would certainly not support it. I wouldn't imply support, I wouldn't hint at support, I would oppose it. It would be the wrong decision. On an issue that I know something about and care about, I'll vote in the way that I think is correct, and if that excludes me from any possibility of having Cabinet position, so be it."

Mr Goldsmith was speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, in support of his new book The Constant Economy, a guide to policies which he feels can make for a fairer, greener and more stable society, within the present political system. Interviewed before an audience of 200, he expanded on his pledge not to suppress his views.

"I haven't gone into politics to have a glossy political career," he said. "That's not of any interest to me. I've gone into politics because I want to change things. I think there's an awful lot that can be done and an awful lot that needs to be done and that, I think, doesn't sit squarely with the idea that you become a political automaton, that you have a political lobotomy and you simply do as you're told.

"I'm amazed, if you look at the voting record of so many MPs, of all parties, it's usually hovering around the 98 per cent, 99 per cent loyalty mark – now that's extraordinary to me."

He went on: "If I was a Cabinet member, and you saw me standing up on a platform saying, the Conservative Party's absolutely right to do a U-turn on Heathrow expansion and it's great for the economy and good for everyone else and to hell with the 2 million people under the flight path, what would that say to the British public? It would say that British politicians are even less trustworthy than we thought.

"People would recognise absolutely that I was doing it for the advancement of my own career, and that sends a very bad message about trust, and people and power. The last thing people want is endless political automatons simply doing what they're told in the interests of their own career. More independence is desperately needed"

Mr Goldsmith, who has been in the headlines because of the break-up of his marriage to his wife Sheherazade – the divorce settlement is likely to cost him a hefty chunk of his estimated £300m fortune – has not always been a Tory. In the 1997 election he helped his father Sir James campaign for The Referendum Party, which was opposed to British membership of the EU.

He said of the Conservatives: "There are people in the party who doubt climate change and doubt the importance of environmental issues generally, but I do believe the Conservatives are moving in the right direction."





Right-click here and click "Save target/link as..." to download

What's on: Friday's schedule

* Victoria Coren charts the rise of Poker from the smoke-filled backroom to glitzy global tournaments (Poker Faces, The Oxfordshire Museum, 12:30pm)

* Foreign correspondents Martin Bell and Robert Fisk discuss the Golden Age of reportage (The Lost Art of Reportage, Blenheim Palace, 2pm)

* Blur's Alex James and The Undertones's Feargal Sharkey discuss the poets that influence modern-day songwriters. (The Poetry of Rock n' Roll, Blenheim Palace, 4pm)

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
Arts and Entertainment
James Dean on the set of 'Rebel without a Cause', 1955
photographyHe brought documentary photojournalism to Tinseltown, and in doing so, changed the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing