Zac Goldsmith is the son of billionaire financier James Goldsmith, who allegedly once said “When a man marries his mistress, he creates a vacancy”. James Goldsmith was the funder of the Referendum Party – a prominent Eurosceptic party that threatened to force early UKIP to collapse. James Goldsmith died in 1997, however, and the party collapsed not long afterwards.
Zac Goldsmith was educated at Eton, and then the Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies – one of the most prestigious sixth forms in the country. Goldsmith did not go to university, but instead used his family connections to get an editorship at The Ecologist, where he turned the magazine from its heavily academic-journal based past to a more accessible magazine format. This action trebled the publication’s circulation. He stepped down as Reviews Editor when he announced that he was going to start reviewing environmental policies for then-new Conservative Leader David Cameron.
Goldsmith, then known as an environmentalist, was added to David Cameron’s ‘A-List’, a project to modernise the Conservative Party. Famous names on the A-List include:
- Amber Rudd – Home Secretary
- Liz Truss – Secretary of State for Justice/Lord Chancellor
- Priti Patel – Secretary of State for International Development
- Mark Menzies – less famous but Menzies’ constituency includes the UCLan Sports Arena
Vast swathes of the A-List were successful. Goldsmith, tasked with taking Richmond Park off of the Liberal Democrats, was no exception. He overturned a 3,731 LIB majority, and won with a 4091 CON majority, or in other terms, a 10.1% swing from LIB to CON at the height of Cleggmania. At the 2015 General Election he won a majority of 23,015 votes – ahead of the Liberal Democrats, who were in second place on 19.3%.
Goldsmith could be described as a ‘small l liberal’, i.e. one who has liberal tendencies, but does not put liberalism at the heart of their politics (‘big L Liberals’ – like the Liberal Democrats). He has often spoke in favour of direct democracy, and in favour of the ability for constituents to recall their MPs.
As an environmentalist, Goldsmith fervently opposes expansion of Heathrow Airport. In October 2016, he announced that he would resign as a result of the Government’s recommendation to build a third runway at Heathrow. He will stand as an independent in the resulting by-election.