Zac Goldsmith on the Environment, Jemima and Becoming an MP

19/06/2012 15:03 BST | Updated 19/08/2012 10:12 BST

I met Zac Goldsmith through a friend. I found him so inspiring and genuine that I helped out on his political campaign. Zac was elected and is now MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston.

How does it feel to get elected?

I'm still wondering how it happened, but thrilled to be able to turn promises into reality. There's lots to do, on so many levels, but I have already seen that it is possible to make a difference as an MP.

Has becoming an MP been like what you thought it would be?

There are no rules. There is nothing stopping a new MP flying off to the Caribbean the day after the election, enjoying the salary and expenses, and doing absolutely nothing of any value. That's why we need a proper recall process, where MPs who have lost the respect of their constituents can be booted out. It is for an individual MP to decide what sort of MP they want to be. I am still learning the ropes and figuring out how to be most effective.

Your sister, Jemima Khan, put on her twitter that voting Tory was 'embarrassing'. Did you tell her off?

No! It was a joke that was picked up by a mischievous journalist. She was a huge help in the campaign, and canvassed regularly.

What is the main thing people can do to help the environment?

What we do at home, at work and in our communities is important. But the real change is still going to come about because of political decisions, so the most important thing we can all do is get involved in politics - at any level. Even simply putting pressure on your MP is useful.

What do you think it the most pressing political issue at the moment?

The big long term issue, the cloud hanging over us, is the environment. We are cashing in the natural world and we cannot go on doing so indefinitely. But the immediate, overarching issue is the economy. If we don't sort the deficit, we will be spending more servicing our debt than we do on education, and we would almost certainly see the cost of borrowing rise - for individuals and for businesses.

Why do you think you inspire young people so much? You had lots of volunteers who believed in you.

I had some wonderful helpers, and a magnificent team, which meant that the campaign was vibrant and fun. I was very lucky.

Do you think you it would have been harder to get elected without the scarily talented Ben Mallet?

Absolutely. Aged 15, Ben Mallet volunteered to establish a Conservative Future branch. By the time of the election, it was the biggest in England. I don't know how he did it, but he is a phenomenon and a treasure.

Tell me the premise behind your book 'The Constant Economy.'

Crudely speaking, it's a guide to creating an economy that puts a value on valuable things, like natural capital, and a cost on pollution, waste and the use of scarce resources. It's about learning to live within our ecological means. The chapters are organised as 'steps'. Collectively, they would take us absolutely in the right direction. Individually, none of them would require political courage.

What are you first thought about parliament as someone who is relatively new to it.

The ritual, the atmosphere and the process is fascinating and sometimes stirring, but I sometimes wonder how much of real value happens in the chamber itself. When I first raised an issue, after my Maiden Speech, I felt I was shouting at a troop of giggling baboons on the other side.

What's next?

Other than making the most of being in Parliament, being able to campaign on issues from the inside for the first time, I have no plans. I will simply do my best.

Thank you Zac.

This interview originally appeared in Frost Magazine.