The Evening Standard have published a new BMG poll of the Richmond Park by-election, suggesting a significantly less exciting race than some people thought (and than the Lib Dems hoped). Topline voting intention figures are:

GOLDSMITH (Ind) 56% (down 2 from the Con share in 2015)
OLNEY (Lib Dem) 29% (up 10 from the LD share in 2015)
LABOUR 10% (-2)
OTHER 5% (-5)

While there is a month to go, this suggests that Goldsmith should hold the seat relatively easily. The idea that, with both main candidates opposing Heathrow expansion, it could become an by-election about Brexit in a pro-EU seat doesn’t really seem to working out at present. 25% of voters say that Brexit will be the most important issue in deciding their vote, but they are mostly voting Lib Dem and Labour already. Goldsmith’s voters say their most important considerations are Goldsmith’s own record and views, followed by Heathrow opposition.

BMG also asked people how they would have voted if the Conservatives had put up an official Conservative candidate against Goldsmith. Topline figures would have been GOLDSMITH 34%, LIB DEM 25%, CONSERVATIVE 20% – so the race would have been far more competitive, but with the Tories trailing in third place. It was an unusual decision not to stand, but the polling suggests it was the right one for the Tories (or at least, neither option would have produced a Tory MP, but the Conservatives presumably prefer Goldsmith winning to a Lib Dem). Full details are here.

522 Responses to “BMG/Standard poll of Richmond Park gives Goldsmith 27 point lead”

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    For once I agee with you. The LD’s were very happy to have their time in Government. They managed to get some of their own policies through and stopped the Conservatives on a number of issues. It seems to have cost them though, which i guess is why they don’t seem so happy now.

  2. @Tancred

    “They let all the ground under them be washed away by Conservative policies, and only took a stand on things very few people care about.”


    Yes they have a very strange concept of comprimise. They compromised the way the French compromised with the Germans in 1940.

    They u-turned on so much, it’s astonishing anyone could think that “compromise”. And what bits they did get were clearly for party advantage eg the miserable compromise.

    Amazes that anyone falls for it. But most didn’t…


    “For once I agee with you. The LD’s were very happy to have their time in Government. They managed to get some of their own policies through and stopped the Conservatives on a number of issues. It seems to have cost them though, which i guess is why they don’t seem so happy now.”


    Naturally it cost them. They got relatively marginal stuff through and capitulated wholesale on loads. When they could have avoided the capitulation via confidence and supply. But then they wouldn’t have got their bums on the benches and had a referendum on the miserable compromise.

    Do LDs like cricket? They never seem to mention it…

  4. Carfrew,

    You have a good point on the Lib Dems and austerity. I think that the problem the Lib Dems had was that they made too many big repositionings on what polsci folk call “valence issues”. They might have gotten away with austerity or tuition fees, but both u-turns was to move camps from “idealistic centre-left” to “liberal centre-right”. That move might have worked when David Owen was interested in it in the 1980’s, but it was a really unwise change when the Tories were acting more liberal and Labour were out for idealistic centre-left voters.

  5. Similarly, the SNP or Sinn Fein can sometimes take centre-right positions e.g. on corporation tax, because these aren’t valence issues and so they don’t have to move camps.

  6. The problem in principle with the idea of making compromises in a coalition is that it takes the decision-making out of the hands of the electorate (in principle at least when they choose between manifestos) and puts it into the hands of the politicians (who choose which bits of the manifesto to honour and which to abandon).

    If a coalition party honoured the issues that their voters (on the whole) thought were most crucial, and assuming they managed to communicate the process of compromise adequately, then the electorate’s will would be honoured. And presumably they would be as happy as it was possible for them to be.

    Given that they spent a lot of time emphasising their contribution to the coalition and the compromises involved, does the fact that the Lib Dems suffered such a fallout not tend to suggest that their manifesto priorities in the coalition negotiations were simply misaligned with those of their voters in 2010?

  7. @Bill P

    The u-turn on too many valence issues, which in effect is the point Candy was making, was ONE of the errors.

    Error number two was to trade what leverage they had for party advantage rather than to deliver on some valence issues. Makes it more obviously cynical

    Error number three as to u-turn on what you might call a meta-valence issue. Austerity is a catch-all that allows all manner of stuff to be visited upon voters who had been led to expect otherwise.

    Error number four was to really take the mick and try and say they had no alternative.

    Error number five was to not see that some people will accept u-turns sure, provided they themselves still benefit.* So peeps benefiting from QE might be ok with it, but that region is more a Tory heartland. Not enough LD voters benefited elsewhere.

    Error number six was to not realise that pseudo-liberal policies were looking a bit threadbare by that point. And it’s possible Cable did not read my post beneath his article warning him of the electoral calamity he was facing. I shan’t mention storage either…

    There are more errors, like letting themselves be used to announce the bad news repeatedly… it was epic in its tragicomedy really. No wonder Dave thought he could win the EU ref., LDs must have had him thinking he was golden.

  8. @Bill P

    Oh, another error I forgot t mention one, very important strategically…

    They let the Tories get LDs to commit to much of what Tories wanted up front, Austerity, Tuition fees etc….

    …but they had to wait for their jam e.g. AV referendum. And because Tories had already got what they wanted, they could oppose LDs vehemently on the AV thing.

    LDs did belatedly manage to scupper the boundary thing… but too little too late.

  9. Carfrew

    I suspect the boundary thing won’t been seen as that great a political gain when historians come to write up the coalition.

  10. Somerjohn – “I made no claims about how people regard me.”

    You mentioned the word “home”.

    Home is where when you present yourself, they accept you unconditionally. It’s not somewhere where they accept you only if you have made a good joke in a tavern. It’s where they accept you even if you are being a right royal pain in the neck.

    What I’m trying to point out is that Britain is your home, we accept you even though you are being bloody difficult about accepting the results of the ref, just as we accept Rachel despite her mysterious support for Corbyn, and Jayblanc despite his mysterious admiration for Miliband. Where we want the Sunderlanders to have jobs despite political differences, and the people of Brum to have respect despite their funny accent.

    In every other place in the world, they will accept you on sufferance only and will withdraw it at their convenience, and that includes other parts of the anglosphere. And that’s because those places are not your home. Your problem is you spend too much time in an imagined world and are struggling because reality has knocked on your door.

  11. @Alan

    I was trying to find summat positive to finish on…

  12. Candy

    You make it sound like an episode of Cheers.

  13. @Alan

    Well, pubs are a good simile for nations!

    Consider this: does anyone in the UK know or care that unemployment is 20% in Spain? Nope. Do the Germans who share a currency with the Spaniands care? Nope. Do the europhiles in the UK care? Nope, they gloss over it and pretend that they enjoy unemployment over there.

    Contrast that indifference to how Brits reacted to the Nissan business. The Tory shires, the Midlands cities, the Welsh valleys and everywhere inbetween felt it was right to protect the Sunderlanders. Further they felt free democracy itself was under threat if foreigners could demand people be made unemployed for voting in a way that inconvienced those elites. We’d become a banana republic if we let that happen, literally Guatemala. Most remainers felt the same way, only a bizarre hard core were in the “punish them for how they voted” camp.

    And that in a nutshell is the difference between belonging and not belonging. If you are not part of the nation, no-one cares if you live or die. Sounds brutal, but that is the way it is. Across the world. People who misunderstand that get themselves into terrible trouble.

  14. @OLDNAT – “Did you actually read his paper?”

    Yes of course I read the paper.

    – Did you miss the bit where I stated the margin for error on the poll was +/- 9% (due to the size of the sample)?

    Have you not read the press releases from Scottish Fishermen Associations telling the SNP to embrace Brexit?

    I’m sure there would be a furore from the membership if these statements were contrary to the views of the vast majority of the membership.

    I’m afraid all the evidence that is available strongly suggests that UK fisherman are very committed to Brexit and I await to see any evidence to the contrary.

    @NEIL A – “No one expects the Tories to be deeply ideologically committed. In fact the UK likes the Tories best when they are not.”

    I’ll challenge that statement. The most ideological Tory PM in living memory secured 3 election victories on the trot and arguably set the foundation for the 4th.

    @BIGFATRON – On empathy for the Libdems

    I agree with you. They really had no political alternative apart from perhaps a confidence and supply arrangement in 2010. The economy was a disaster and stability was required in the national interest.

    They were metaphorical babes in the woods, ultimately outmaneuvered by the wily Tories. From a pure strategy perspective you have to hand it to the Tories for getting what the country needed (stability) and defenestrating their partners at the following election, relatively coming out of it smelling of roses.

    A masterclass in strategic diplomacy. Indeed Hague admits after the coalition agreement that he remarked, “I think I’ve just destroyed the Liberal Democrats”

  15. Candy

    I think the “noone gives damn if you live or die” applies within the country as well as without. That’s my experience of Britain anyway.

  16. @Alan

    People do care. Brexit itself was an effort to focus attention on domestic matters – and it is working. Look at all the developments since the vote. Osborne sacked, his targets abandoned. Industrial strategy now in vogue. Tests on the chronic disabled abandoned. Restrictions on immigration to prevent a horrible darwinistic struggle at the bottom. Citizens start to get priority at last.

    Of course Goldman Sachs are dismayed, as are businesses like Whitbread, who “warned” that wages would have to rise at the bottiom if immigration was restricted. But middle Britain doesn’t care, it is pleased about these developments – we want things sorted out to stabalize the good ship Britannia.

    I’ve no idea what the Remainers are thinking – perhaps they are just being contrary in saying “it is important wages are suppressed so Whitbread shareholders make money”, or “the minimum wage being a cap on earnings is a price well worth paying for me being able to go to taverns in Spain”? Who knows. They sure as hell don’t give a toss about the people in Spain anymore than they do about Brits.

  17. Candy

    I said ‘my experience’ and I stand by that. I’ve been left for dead by this country for 8 years, I can’t imagine worse treatment overseas.

    From my perspective, this pub is about to put prices up and the one down the road has a happy hour going on. I feel it’s worth checking it out for a few, who knows, maybe I’ll try quite a few before last orders.

  18. @sea Change

    “”I agree with you. They really had no political alternative apart from perhaps a confidence and supply arrangement in 2010. The economy was a disaster and stability was required in the national interest.”


    Lol, that’s what Cable claimed. How did it work out? Handed an economy that had impressively been taken back to over two percent growth less than two years after the worst banking crash since the Great depression, Cable went along with the cuts that gave us the “stability” of wiping out the growth and losing our triple A rating.

    Which was the reason LibDems had argued against Austerity in the first place. Because cuts quelled demand and investment, costing growth as a result. And that’s what happend. investment plummetted. Until Osborne saw the light and went for stimulus. Politically handy as Austerity had already eliminated libDems…

  19. @Alan

    If you really felt that way, you wouldn’t be on a UK polling site, arguing the toss about UK politics with other Brits. You’d have moved on to a Dutch site, or a German site or wherever. Doesn’t it tell you something that you are still engaged here?

  20. Candy

    Britain will always be on my short list but right now it’s one of many and other options seem more tempting. Depending how bad the outcome of Brexit is will determine how long I stay away. If you are right and wages soar then I’ll be back sooner than if the economy rebalances around a falling pound and cheap labour to remain competitive.

    Who knows, in 20 years I may have found myself a nice izakaya and spend the rest of my time there.

  21. Candy,
    “Contrast that indifference to how Brits reacted to the Nissan business. The Tory shires, the Midlands cities, the Welsh valleys and everywhere inbetween felt it was right to protect the Sunderlanders.”

    I would think very few cared about sunderlanders. What they cared about was that Nissan would pay taxes to the same government which was funding their NHS from the proceeds. Its more of a contractual obligation than a heartfelt commitment.

    Home is indeed people who accept you unconditionally, but that is absolutely not a nation. That is a group who impose conditions on what you can do in return for specific benefits, and you accept them if the deal is right. It is a rigged market though, because people have little choice to change nationality. nations force you to remain citizens by language monopolies, skill and accreditation monopolies, financial commitments.

  22. Danny

    While changing nationality is more of a hurdle, this whole freedom of movement thing we still have going on makes it a lot easier to change your place of work and residence. If the market is rigged that badly against you, kick over the stall!

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