On 24 June, my wife who is an EU citizen, sobbed on the phone to me. At 3am yesterday, I woke her up to the new that Sarah Olney had become the next MP for Richmond Park – and I have not seen her so happy in a long time.
This by-election is significant in so many ways. Firstly because it shows that a person who has not been a lifelong political animal, like Olney, can become an MP. She has been a party member for just 18 months and has real world experience which is so vital to ensure the Commons stays in touch with the concerns of people. Zac by contrast had only edited an ecology magazine; a role which was handed to him.
It also showed that the place I have called home for 15 years, is tolerant and cares about the wider world. A group of us in local politics including myself, the Green PPC for Richmond and a Labour Councillor wrote a few months ago to our MP, Tania Mathias to persuade her to vote for child refugees to be taken in by this country. She listened and voted courageously against the Government. The Greens took things further by standing down and supporting Sarah Olney to defeat Goldsmith in a symbol of what can be achieved if progressive politicians work together.
Zac foolishly selectively quoted Caroline Lucas in a blatant attempt to deceive the electorate of Richmond Park that she was endorsing his campaign. It backfired miserably when Lucas came to campaign with Sarah Olney in the last weekend before the by-election.
Richmond has one of the highest percentages of University graduates in the country – we understand tactical voting. Close friends who are ardent Labour supporters voted Lib Dem because they were determined to see the back of an MP who had run a divisive campaign against Sadiq Khan.
It is also a place with a German school, a Swedish school and many, like myself, are married to EU nationals. Goldsmith was a fool to dictate to voters what the election was about.
Olney said in her victory speech last night that “Most voters were saying they were really alarmed about Brexit, really alarmed about the direction it is taking the country and they want to do something about it.” As someone who joined the party at the same time I salute her courage in standing up for Liberal values and a better Britain, and I am sure she will inspire many of us to do the same.
Theresa May will not now want to run the risk of a General Election as on a similar swing to the Liberal Democrats, many seats would be swept up from Twickenham to Yeovil. If we do avoid a hard, crushing Brexit which would have destroyed our economy, we may end up being grateful to Zac Goldsmith for turning the tide.
We need an early general election after Richmond Park
In her by-election campaign, Sarah Olney made a specific pledge that she would oppose the invoking of Article 50. It cannot possibly be argued that she is bound by any previous decision, whether referendum or parliamentary vote. Does this not strengthen the case for an early general election, in which parties and candidates can state their views on the issue, and which would supersede any previous decision? Those of us who reject the legitimacy of referendums in our parliamentary system would then have no cause to “remoan” at the result. Apart from anything else, it might remove the cause of Theresa May being kept awake at night.
The Government should respond to Brexit accordingly
Statesmen and women, if they existed, would address the British people and state and they would fully acknowledge the significance of the vote in the advisory referendum on Brexit. Careful analysis of the voting reveals that certain regions and sections of the electorate feel that they have been neglected and abandoned by successive governments, and they would accept that the vote was in large part a cry of anguish and a plea for help addressed to the Government.
The evidence demonstrates that in many areas immigration was made a scapegoat for the problems people are facing (the North East, Wales, the South West have very low levels of immigration but voted Leave, whilst the South East where immigration levels are high voted Remain) and the Government would address people's concerns by investing massively in these depressed regions and boost educational and health services in regions such as Lincolnshire which have been genuinely stretched by often seasonal immigration.
They would conclude that the problems facing the country would be exacerbated by Brexit and would be best dealt with within the EU using the powers which, as an independent nation, we possess. That is, of course, if statesmen and women exist in the present Parliament.
Theresa May hasn’t been reading her scriptures
I think we are nearly all aware that the scriptures do not advocate punishing or penalising children in any form!
However they do mention embracing them and here is a quote for Theresa May:
Luke 18:16 “But Jesus called them to him saying ‘let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of god’.”
I think our Prime minister would do well to read this passage, probably more than once.
There is nothing democratic about Brexit
Many commentators are suggesting that the Liberal Democrats, Tony Blair and others are undemocratic for still opposing Brexit. They argue that it is undemocratic because the British people voted to leave.
However, even if we do leave the EU, the British people will not get what they voted for, because 52 per cent voted for something that is proving undeliverable and 48 per cent voted to remain.
Which is more democratic, nobody getting what they voted for, or 48 per cent of those who voted getting what they voted for (bearing in mind that UK governments are usually elected by around 30 per cent of those who voted)?
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