Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, today announced his plan to run for London mayor, provided he gets a mandate from his local constituents.
Goldsmith has long been touted as the Tories' best bet with a broad appeal and a reputation as a maverick, especially on environmental issues such as air pollution and Heathrow expansion. He also, more controversially, advocates quitting the EU. As mayor he says high streets, better transport and the environment would be his priorities.
Before fully committing to the race however, Goldsmith says he will write to the 77,000 local voters who re-elected him with a 23,015 majority, enclosing a postage-paid voting paper with the question: "Do you give your consent to Zac Goldsmith to stand for election to be Mayor of London". While that sounds like a lot of envelope licking and quite an expensive exercise too, as a gesture it stands in stark contrast to Labour candidate Sadiq Khan who on Monday told his local party that he'd remain as an MP if he became mayor — in effect leaving his Tooting constituents with half an MP. Edit: Sadiq Khan has since tweeted that if elected, he would be a "full time Mayor".
Goldsmith’s move, backed by fellow old-Etonian Boris Johnson, looks set to energise the Conservative side of the race, with a dearth of viable candidates so far, the most eyebrow-raising name joining in at the weekend when footballer Sol Campbell said he was standing because he was sick of politicians “royally mucking up”. Hopefully Goldsmith's announcement can steer the competition back to issues, having been described as “a donkey derby” last month by George Galloway, who himself is standing.