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An Elite Response To Richmond

05/12/2016 17:05 GMT | Updated 06/12/2017 10:12 GMT
AlanOrganLRPS via Getty Images

If, like me, you're a self-identified Tory who voted remain then you're probably used to some rather robust words from our blue brothers and sisters. Especially if you live in a city and don't have 'a trade'. In fact, you're possibly referred to as a 'wet' by those who hark back to the divisiveness of Thatcher. But more often than not you're 'The Metropolitan (often liberal) Elite'.

Huge swathes of the Tory party would take joy in calling you that, and they certainly celebrated the Brexit result as a victory over people like you. Post-Cameron you can be assured that this isn't going to change any time soon.

The Richmond Park by-election showed why this could be a problem for my party, and I'm kind of glad it did.

Putting aside any foolish claims that the 'shock result' was the start of a block on Brexit, there is still an important lesson for the 'Dark Blue' wing currently prevailing at Conservative HQ.

Back when my job involved sitting in the basement of Matthew Parker Street, encouraging people that there was a home for them in The Conservatives, I was often asked to camp out at various by-elections. During the General Election I had the 'privilege' of being a full-time part of the crooked Thanet South team supporting Farage clone Craig Mackinlay. What I saw there were the roots of today's rot and a possible part-explanation for the Richmond result.

Forget for one moment that the campaign in Thanet is being investigated for overspending. Forget that one of the key team members was arrested in Parliament and accused of rape. Forget that the man who arranged the busses of supporters has been suspended for bullying that may have lead to a suicide. Instead look at those still standing and the nature of the campaign.

If you are Chancellor of the Exchequer and providing a realistic outlook on the economic impact of Brexit, then woe is you. The Brexit bullies will accuse you of betrayal. Previously sensible MPs have ushered in the post-truth world and 'we're 'sick of experts'. Should you show any remorse for the referendum result, then you're to suck it up and stop railing against democracy.

Oh, and don't forget, should you be a judge who has ruled that democracy should be honored, then you're a traitor, and probably part of a large conspiracy by the Metropolitan Liberal Elite (MLE) to prevent the people of Britain getting what they want.

Well yesterday this disdain for the MLE came back to bite.

Sure, Goldsmith wasn't a Conservative candidate. But when was the last time that a sitting government choose to not defend a by-election, especially when having such a slim majority? That's an endorsement in my books. And even without the mega-resources of CCHQ behind him, Zac was a popular candidate falling on his sword to fight for the local residents.

However Zac stood on the wrong platform. Were any of the candidates pro-Heathrow? If you ask the people of London what he stands for then I'm certain that two things come to mind.

1) His dog-whistle London mayoral campaign. Which shows what happens when you decide to treat the MLE as you would Thanet South.

2) The Brexit result and Goldsmiths anti-Europe legacy.

I don't, for one minute, think that the people of Richmond believe that they will overturn the referendum result. I'm not sure many people really think that. Neither do I think the election was about stopping Heathrow, if you wanted that to happen then you need your MP to be close to the Government (Zac) and not part of a tiny opposition party (Lib Dems).

I believe what happened in Richmond was a pushback by the MLE. Wets, Liberals, pro-Europeans, all have been mocked and pushed to the back of the Conservative party by those who believe that the best politics is that which divides.

My first choice vote in the Mayoral election went to The Women's Equality Party. I struggle with a LOT of what they stand for, but they were the only ticket I could put my name behind. I certainly didn't want to endorse a racist campaign for a Brexit mayor to head up the pro-European capital.

The South West constituency for London Mayoral Election, which includes Richmond, backed Goldsmith. But something seems to have changed in the 6 months since.

It seems that the MLE are not the sort to be pushed about. Their allegiance lies with their beliefs, not their party. I think that's a trend that will continue.

Down in Thanet I saw the rot of those who hate and bully. Whilst standing on an almost identical platform to each other the UKIP and Conservative teams hated each other, loyal to their party even if it meant possibly committing a crime.

This strong-arm tactic doesn't work for the long-haul. People will get sick of it and they'll vote elsewhere. I may be a self-identified Conservative, but I'm a decent person first and if my party runs a racist and dog-whistle campaign then I won't be there to support it.

Richmond Park and the resurgence of the Lib-dems won't change British politics. Brexit will happen, the Lid-dems still have a tiny group of MPs and the Brexit obsessed dark-blue wing of the Conservatives will continue to run rampantly and arrogantly around Westminster declaring everyone a Wet, Liberal or Traitor.

The Government has an extremely slim working majority, that has just got that little bit slimmer.

Dark Blue Tories can scoff at the disarray of the Labour party with it's twice popularly elected leader. They could point to Trump's election as a win for the 'decent people' over the establishment, securing 2 Million less votes than Clinton. They could even point to the referendum result with it's clear 4% margin of victory and the tumbling value of the money in our pockets. They can point at all of these as evidence that bullying and post-truth divisive politics is the future.

But they'd be wise to look at Richmond realise that there will be a fight back. The decent people will not stand the 'decent people' of Farage's ilk for long.

*This blog was originally posted on DigitalGruel.com