Stephen Robinson

A toe-curling tragedy

The Tory bid to retain the mayoralty seemed to occur in a ­vacuum, shielded from the public gaze

Zac Goldsmith spent almost every day out on the stump during his London mayoral campaign dressed in the formal dark suit he inherited from his father, and had recut on his death in 1997. At least that is what a member of his team told me as I was out observing proceedings one day.

I think that detail was offered as a bit of journalistic ‘colour’ to show Zac’s sense of filial duty, but that was the only sense in which his painfully understated campaigning could be said to have owed anything to Sir James Goldsmith’s bombastic, manic style when he ran the Referendum party.

Some political campaigns are failures; others are simply tragedies, and Zac Goldsmith’s falls into the latter category. Writing this two days before polling day, one cannot exclude the possibility that turnout could sink as low as the 32–33 per cent mark, and that white middle-class voters in the outer suburbs will turn out while the younger, more liberal supporters of Labour’s Sadiq Khan will stay in bed. Zac’s staff were assiduously promoting this notion.

But even if there is an upset, Goldsmith’s campaign must be classed an embarrassment, and in some ways a disgrace, as an effort by Conservatives to win over the electorate of a great capital city. It is worth remembering that last summer Zac was 2/1 favourite to win on what then seemed likely to be a prospectus of optimism.

Zac Goldsmith himself seems an amiable enough soul, though his thin CV and past business failures scarcely qualify him to stand up as the candidate of enterprise against what he classes as the ‘divisive’ figure of Sadiq Khan.

Khan seems dim and slippery and could have been beaten by the right sort of Conservative candidate, especially after the new Islington-based Labour leadership cabal declared jihad against London Jews.

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