What’s the difference between HS2 and Heathrow expansion? One is an expensive and environmentally disastrous project that contributes little towards Britain’s transport needs, and the other is a railway line.
I have nothing more to say about Heathrow; I’ve blogged about it before, and my views haven’t changed.
The Richmond by-election, through, is something else. On the surface, it looks bizarre. The sitting Tory MP Zac Goldsmith resigns his seat to fight it as an independent in protest to the Heathrow decision, but the Tory party aren’t putting up a candidate to oppose him, giving him a clear run against the Liberal Democrat challenger. What is going on here?
My best guess is that Theresa May fears a Liberal Democrat revival far more than she fears disloyalty and division within her own party. Richmond is a Liberal Democrat target seat; they held the seat up to the 2010 general election, and will win on the sort of swing we saw in Witney. Richmond is on the doorstep of the London-based media, and a LibDem victory will put the parry and their policies centre stage.
It’s true that a Tory challenger to the disloyal former MP will split the vote and hand the LibDems almost certain victory, so there is a certain tactical logic here. It’s not a safe seat like Clacton. But it does send the message that defying the party won’t be punished that severely. Will that be a decision Theresa May will end up regretting?