This week, as well as some TV stuff, I’ve done a couple of live election events. They turned out to have a common thread – the Tory candidate for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith.
Last night, I went back to my old school, Grey Court in Ham, part of the Richmond Park seat, to help with an election debate in what has become a rather promising catfight between Mr Goldsmith and the incumbent Lib Dem, Susan Kramer. They were both good – but I must confess to being rather impressed by Mr Goldsmith.
He adopted the most unusual tactic of trying to respond directly to the questions asked – and, even better, he was honest enough to tell people some things they probably didn’t want to hear. Asked about university tuition fees, a hot-button issue in this youth audience and middle-class area, he refused to promise that they would be scrapped – which with a budget deficit of £165 billion is surely the truth. Ms Kramer did promise the audience that the Lib Dems would scrap them, over six years, but proved rather vague, under cross-examination, on how much it would cost and how it would be paid for.
The night before, I did the Rory Bremner travelling election roadshow – he does a comedy routine in the first half and then brings on the likes of me in the second half to be his straight man. He did it in Richmond the other week, with both Zac and Susan joining him the second half. When we were talking before the show, Rory also mentioned, unprompted, how impressed he’d been with Goldsmith that night and how unusual and candid he’d seemed. Not out of the general political mould, was his opinion.
Neither Rory nor I could be described as Tories – indeed, someone at the school reminded me last night that I actually stood as a Labour candidate for Ham in one council election. I’ve voted for all four of the parties in the past, but only once for the Tories (for Boris Johnson, another maverick.) If I lived in Richmond Park, though, I think I might be tempted.