Simon Carr: Zac's like an amateur but it's usually the professionals that win

The Sketch: Politics has started to get him in its coils. I fear for him
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The Independent Online

The election leaflet on Hammersmith Broadway was the first good, clear, indication of how the Tories are addressing the deficit. It listed a number of very significant savings Boris has either made or would make in the future. Then (and I don't know why) the leaflet told us to vote Labour. But Labour's plans to cut the deficit aren't anything like as clear as this.

This proves that Zac Goldsmith is not a professional. He's straightforward, like an amateur. And like an amateur, he'd resign if his party reneged on one of his personal pledges. It's why he's likeable. We like amateurs. The only trouble is that unless the game is handicapped, the professionals win.

For those of us who believe in the diversity and equality of the House of Commons, it is essential Zac is elected. Young, handsome, rich, Sir James Goldsmith's son, he is in a tiny minority of candidates – and subject to the sort of ethnic vilification that is actually now illegal.

With such a backdrop, it was to the credit of the community regeneration people that he was so politely received at his meeting at the Castlenau Youth Centre in the London Borough of Richmond. They weren't natural Tory voters there, with the estate opposite and "things happening you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy".

Perhaps 15 people sat, stood and listened. A child at his feet played with a toy rocket, clicking detachable panels on and off. It would only fly if you lifted it in the air and made whooshing noises. There must have been some metaphorical possibilities there but Zac had started to speak.

He has an attractive way about him, a carefree lilt to things he says, even when returning fire. It wasn't entirely clear whether the audience was satisfied. The child with the rocket shook her head and took the panels off the sides and started again.

It was when defending his honour that he fired up. It had been impossible to stop the media mania about his affairs (I blushed) so here's his rebuttal. He's always been resident for tax purposes. He may have also been a non-dom (I didn't follow) but that had finished a full year before it had come out. And the fact that his principal residence is in a trust means it'll attract full capital gains.

"If politicians are caught telling lies I think they should be slung in jail," he said. That would certainly give him a clear run at the Richmond seat, if the jury saw things his way. "When I saw Nick Clegg talking about cleaning up politics, it turned my stomach," he said.

His introduction to politics has bruised him. The process has started to get him in its coils. I fear for him. A woman at the back rather went at him saying how fed up she was with the relentless negativity of public life. It wasn't clear that Zac was exonerated from this. She said, "I feel impotent."

"You are," Zac told her. He really is not as other MPs, is he? He also said: "When you build something round here there seems to be a law that says it has to be ugly."

People who stand for office were "very peculiar", he said. They were part of the "grubbiest profession" and the sort of people who'd stand for an elected House of Lords would be "slimy egotistical scumbags".

He might be overtrained just at the moment. I recommend a short break between now and the day of the election.