According to the indefatigable Paul Waugh in today's Evening Standard:
"Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith faced fresh controversy today after it emerged that he has spent more than a quarter of a million pounds of his own money on getting elected. The environmentalist has donated £260,000 since he was selected to fight the Richmond Park seat in 2007, according to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission... Virtually all of the money goes to office staff and “office costs”. The party says that Mr Goldsmith set up his own office in Richmond, separate to the local association's headquarters. The candidate employs two members of staff to help him campaign."
I don't have a problem with that, and I can't believe anyone is especially surprised that Mr Goldsmith, who is reportedly worth £200 million, has pumped some of his own money into his campaign. Furthermore, it has all been declared to the Electoral Commission in the usual fashion and he has done nothing improper (and before any asks, he has already set the record straight on his tax status).
However, what I would say is that there should never be an expectation and certainly no demand on the part of local Conservative associations around the country that candidates should be contributing a certain amount to campaign coffers. As ConservativeHome has previously reported, the costs of being a candidate already run into tens of thousands of pounds.
A good candidate is not necessarily a wealthy one. A wealth of life experience working at the coalface in a sink school, with a charity, or indeed literally at the coalface can be just as valuable to the party as hard cash, if not more so. As Tim lamented just last month, when it comes to diversifying the party's candidates' list, there has been too much emphasis on gender and race and not enough on social and working backgrounds.
None of that, however, is to denigrate the considerable abilities of Zac Goldsmith, for whom I will be voting as a constituent in Richmond Park next year. Whilst his views on the environment are not to everyone's taste, this Platform piece which he wrote for ConHome during party conference week makes a compelling civil libertarian case for reducing the amount of state regulation in our lives. It is well worth reading if you missed it at the time.