UK Politics

Richmond Park by-election: An at-a-glance guide

Rutting stags in Richmond Park Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Deer roam freely in Richmond Park, London's largest enclosed green space

Campaigning is in full swing in Richmond Park, south west London, where voters will elect their next MP on 1 December. Here's a guide to the contest, including who's running - and who's not.

Why is there a by-election?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Zac Goldsmith quit Parliament over Heathrow

Because of the resignation of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who has represented the seat since 2010.

He quit Parliament in protest at the government's decision to approve plans for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Mr Goldsmith, the unsuccessful Conservative candidate in May's London mayoral election, is trying to win his old seat back, but this time as an independent.


Who else is standing?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sarah Olney (centre) was confirmed as the Lib Dem candidate at a party meeting

The Liberal Democrats, who held the seat until 2010 and finished second there in last year's general election, are fielding Sarah Olney, an accountant who had already been pencilled in to fight the next general election.

Labour's candidate is transport expert Christian Wolmar, while Fiona Syms is standing as an independent but promising to join the Conservatives if she wins.

Here are all the candidates, in alphabetical order of surname:

  • Zac Goldsmith, Independent
  • Howling Laud Hope, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
  • Maharaja Jammu and Kashmir, One Love Party
  • Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrats
  • David Powell
  • Dominic Francis Stockford, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Fiona Natasha Syms, Independent
  • Christian Wolmar, Labour Party

...And who's not?

Despite his fierce criticism of the government over Heathrow, the Conservatives have decided not to field a candidate against Mr Goldsmith.

Another party not standing is UKIP, saying it back Mr Goldsmith. The Green Party, meanwhile, is also not fielding a candidate, calling for a "progressive alliance" against the former Tory MP.


Key issues

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Heathrow's flight path goes over the Richmond Park constituency

Mr Goldsmith has said he wants to make the by-election a referendum on Heathrow. Ms Olney and Mr Wolmar also oppose Heathrow expansion, while Ms Syms is in favour.

But the Lib Dems have declared their intention to make the by-election about Brexit, as well as the third runway, pointing to Mr Goldsmith's backing for the UK leaving the EU.


The battleground

Image caption The constituency is home to Kew Gardens

On the banks of the Thames in south west London including the royal park itself, London's largest enclosed green space, and its environs.

Generally an affluent area, Richmond Park has leafy streets and many open green spaces, including Kew Gardens and the London Wetland Centre.

It includes parts of the boroughs of Richmond and Kingston and also has a Heathrow flight path over part of it, hence airport expansion being high on the agenda.


2015 results

  • Conservatives - 34,404
  • Liberal Democrats - 11,389
  • Labour - 7,296
  • Green Party - 3,548
  • UKIP - 2,464

Precedents

Image copyright AP
Image caption Douglas Carswell won his seat of Clacton after defecting from UKIP

Although the circumstances are different in each case, other MPs to have quit and recontested their seats include Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, who won by-elections in 2014 after defecting from the Conservatives to UKIP. In 2008, Conservative David Davis was unopposed by the main parties as he retained his seat after resigning over civil liberties.

But in 1982, Bruce Douglas Mann was comfortably ousted by the Conservatives when he triggered a by-election after switching from Labour to the SDP.

  • Polls open at 07:00 GMT on 1 December. Click here for a list of polling stations

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