Weekly Blues – Dispatches from the Conservative Frontline

Image: York Tories

Image: York Tories

Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative candidate for the candidate for the upcoming London mayoral election to replace outgoing Boris Johnson who is now returning to be a MP for his new constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Mr Johnson has clearly ended some of the negative press around his past, and his launched himself into the contention to replace Mr Cameron as Prime Minister, whether he will, will be decided but he has a strong mandate one feels, appealing to traditional Conservative support base, however he has diversified and indeed enticed more general support for example by supporting Obama for election to President. Many people wrote Boris off when he ran for Mayor and indeed he was not the Conservative party’s first choice, and it would be a mistake for other suitors for Cameron’s position to do the same. Enough about the past as interesting as it is, how does Zac look for the future?

The campaign against Goldsmith has been fairly negative, characterising him as an Old Etonian from a rich background with power handed down to him which is of course in contrast to Sadiq Khan who emphasises his humble origins, this perception management is typical as you would expect against a Conservative candidate. What one finds appealing however about Mr Goldsmith is although he has come from wealth which he does not (and probably cannot) deny, he appears to seem in touch; he voiced the concerns of ordinary Londoners who are struggling to afford homes and supported Cameron’s redevelopment of estates programme and indeed plans to build 50,000 homes on Mayoral ground. Indeed has been a strong opponent of the expansion of Heathrow, which falls alongside his advocacy of the environment and environmental reform. Whilst support of the environment may be unpopular among some, such as Mr Donald Trump who sees climate change as a fallacy and cares only for the impact of previous and possible actions on business costs, the environment issue will resonate however with many Londoners who see the inordinately high pollution levels in central London.

Altogether, this leads to a favourable impression of Zac, will he however be able to best Sadiq? Currently he finds himself 7 points behind, however Conservative supporters do not feel dismal or downcast, there is a long way from now until May and indeed engagement at this time is low and as it rises, that is when the polls will really begin to be defining and important. Zac can and should take numerous lessons from Boris, but most importantly, in the political realm anything can happen, one can go from outsider for the Conservative Mayoral candidacy to candidate to replace the Prime Minister, just as much as one can go from 7 points down to 7 points up.

Changing fortunes were also at hand for the York Tories over the last week as the planned speaker on surveillance Daniel Nesbitt was unable to make an appearance but had to reschedule for later in the year, thanks however to our internal vice-chair the York Tories held a great debate on international aid. For the week ahead we will be heading into town with pretenders for the throne, the Labour party, so if you are looking forward to a bit of playful fun, it is surely the place to be on Wednesday night.

Stefan Schuller is the Campaigns Officer of the York Conservative and Unionist Association

This article was amended at 12:27 on Tuesday 26th January, in order to properly credit the author as Stefan Schuller

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