Zac Goldsmith MP

26 Aug 2013 09:56:12

Bridgen, Wollaston and Stewart among the Tory MPs pushing for Parliament to have a say in any Syria action

By Peter Hoskin
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It’s no surprise that Tory MPs are joining Douglas Alexander in seeking a recall of Parliament ahead of any military action in Syria. After all, 81 of them signed a letter to David Cameron in June, demanding a vote on any decision to dispatch British arms to the rebels.

And it’s also no surprise that the author of that letter, Andrew Bridgen, is among the most insistent voices this time around, now that missiles appear poised to strike at Assad. “We need to recall Parliament immediately, if that’s what’s on the table,” is how he put it on the radio yesterday. “I want to hear what the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary has to say at the despatch box.”

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28 Mar 2013 13:26:36

Mixed reaction from Conservative MPs to Cameron's micro-shuffle

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By Paul Goodman
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  • Further to Tim Montgomerie's report earlier this morning, Conservative MPs and others are asking whether the main driver of the move was the Liberal Democrats' desire to get Hayes out of DECC - though they will find Michael Fallon no pushover: the very opposite - or David Cameron's wish to get him into Downing Street.
  • If the latter is the case, a further question arises - namely, does the Prime Minister now feel that his position with part of his own party is so troubled as to justify a small reshuffle?  If so, is the move a sign of strength or weakness?
  • As one of the founding members of Cornerstone, the gregarious Hayes is not in a bad position to make overtures to the centre-right of the party.  But he isn't on easy terms with all of it, let alone other parts of the Parliamentary Party.
  • And as the tweets above indicate, there is irritation among some MPs with an interest in energy policy at Hayes being moved out of DECC.  After all, he was moved to that department in order to "deliver our people a win on wind farms" - as Cameron is reported to have told him.

24 Jan 2013 08:29:38

What is the Bruges Group?

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 21.54.21My series profiling the groups of Tory MPs continues with a look at a pioneering Eurosceptic group which helped backbenchers cause significant headaches for Prime Minister John Major during the early 1990s. The Bruges Group is a well-established forum for advocating looser ties with Brussels, and it has gone from a relatively small collection of Tories to one of the groups that best represents mainstream Conservative thinking on its particular policy area.

Origins of the group

The Bruges Group was founded in February 1989 to promote and uphold the ideas Margaret Thatcher expressed in her famous Bruges Speech in late 1988. Mrs Thatcher argued that the tide of opinion on the continent was towards centralising the structure of the European institutions - and this would be unsuitable for Britain's national identity and democracy. In the most famous passage of the speech, Mrs Thatcher said:

"I want to see us work more closely on the things we can do better together than alone. Europe is stronger when we do so, whether it be in trade, in defence or in our relations with the rest of the world. But working more closely together does not require power to be centralised in Brussels or decisions to be taken by an appointed bureaucracy. ... We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels."

The group was set up by Patrick Robertson and Lord Harris of High Cross, ie Ralph Harris, the director of the Institute of Economic Affairs from 1957 to 1988. Lord Harris' work promoting free-market economics at the IEA was instrumental in the creation of Thatcherism.

Continue reading "What is the Bruges Group?" »

4 Dec 2012 06:28:54

Leveson debate snapshot: Four Conservative MPs for statutory regulation, eight against

By Paul Goodman
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For statutory regulation

Robert Buckland

George Eustice

Sir Edward Garnier

Zac Goldsmith

Against statutory regulation

Angie Bray

Therese Coffey

Damian Collins

Richard Drax

Kris Hopkins

Peter Lilley

Jacob Rees-Mogg

John Whittingdale

This is, as the headline says, a snapshot.  It doesn't deal with speeches that didn't touch on the regulation debate; nor does it count interventions, and by its nature it compresses a good deal.  For example, Mr Collins, like some other speakers, was against statutory regulation by OFCOM.  And Sir Edward rejected the very term "statutory regulation", preferring "statutory underpinning".

8.30am Update: Ms Coffey has pointed out the thrust of Mr Collins's speech was against statutory regulation, and I have made the necessary change.  Quentin Letts describes her in his sketch today as a "very great lady".

24 Nov 2012 12:09:15

Tory MPs - and Michael Gove - react to Rotherham council UKIP foster parents story

By Matthew Barrett
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Paul Goodman and Harry Phibbs have already covered this strange case of UKIP-supporting foster parents having children taken away from them by the council in Rotherham. Such a breach of political freedom and liberty has been greeted with concern by a number of Tory MPs - including the Education Secretary, Michael Gove - in tweets and elsewhere. I have collected some below.

Gove pointingMichael Gove has released a statement (via here):

"Rotherham have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons. Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible. The ideology behind Rotherham's decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster and many more to adopt. Any council that decides supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need."

Continue reading "Tory MPs - and Michael Gove - react to Rotherham council UKIP foster parents story" »

20 Nov 2012 07:02:55

Calling Zac's whip...calling Zac's whip...calling Zac's whip...

By Paul Goodman
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We live in the age of the Twitter MP.

A smart Whip told ConservativeHome that the Parliamentary Party "is now unwhippable".

Zac Goldsmith is the ultimate unwhippable Twitter MP - a symbol of how the Parliamentary Party is changing.

I am not complaining.  Mr Goldsmith is the MP for the lovely constituency in which I grew up, Richmond Park, a.k.a God's Own Country.

Its voters should be proud to have a representative who's so independent-minded (aided by being independently-wealthy).  I would vote and campaign for him like a shot.

None the less, I have a sneaking sympathy for the whips.  Unbiddable MPs have their place.  And so do Conservative Governments, even in coalition.

P.S: Now that I come to think of it, Zac's father set up his own party, didn't he, or is my memory deceiving me...?

6 Nov 2012 20:07:35

Conservative MPs react to Nadine Dorries's suspension

By Paul Goodman
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4 Sep 2012 16:03:59

Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle

By Matthew Barrett
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Since details of the reshuffle have emerged, Tory MPs, especially on the right of the party, have been reacting positively to David Cameron's appointments.

LAWSON NIGEL TODAYLord Lawson was pleased with the reshuffle:

"I am on the whole very pleased with what has been done. There's another purpose why you need reshuffles. There is always a need to curb public spending and ministers become attached to their departmental budgets and therefore the Treasury needs to have new ministers who will look at their departmental budgets with fresh eyes and find ways of further savings and that is particularly necessary at the present time."

He had specific praise for Owen Paterson's promotion:

"I am very pleased to see in this reshuffle the promotion of Owen Paterson. Owen Paterson is little known to the British public because he has been Northern Ireland Secretary, so he is well known there, but really little known elsewhere. He is in fact one of the most able and promising young men or women around the Cabinet and therefore his promotion to Environment is extremely welcome….he is a man of reason and sense."

Bridgen AndrewAndrew Bridgen said the reshuffle was more wide-ranging than many Tories had expected:

"I think the reaction from the backbenches is that this reshuffle is quite a lot more extensive than we actually predicted. So it is far more radical. But at the end of the day, these reshuffles are of great interest for those of us in the Westminster bubble and the media out there, but I think the people, your viewers, are really interested in policy, not necessarily personality, and it’s about reinvigorating the Government and pushing those policies forward to deliver economic growth that’s going to get the country out of recession."

Continue reading "Conservative MPs react positively to the reshuffle" »

27 Jun 2012 11:14:11

Ahead of PMQs, backbench Tory MPs make clear their opposition to Lords reform proposals

By Matthew Barrett
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5.45pm Update:

Expanding upon his earlier remarks, Jesse Norman appeared on The World At One, and described the reform proposals as "a constitutional monstrosity", saying the Bill "should never have reached the House  Norman Jesse 2of Commons":

"Unfortunately the Conservative manifesto didn’t contain anything like the commitment that everyone’s pretending it did and it’s a small dishonesty to pretend that it did. What the Conservative manifesto said is that the party made a commitment to ‘seek to build a consensus’ for a mainly elected second chamber. Now it has sought to build a consensus until it is blue in the face and all of that tells us that there’s no possible consensus around the bill. Now, there might have been a consensus around a more intelligently crafted set of reforms but this bill is a total nonsense."

Forsyth Michael NewLord Forsyth, on the Daily Politics show, strongly condemned the proposals:

"This bill, which is being drawn up to satisfy the Deputy Prime Minister, is clearly a nonsense. I think that most people would be pretty outraged at the idea that some grubby little deal between the Conservatives and the Liberals that says we will give you permanent controlling vote position in the House of Lords in return for you to agreeing to vote for boundary changes that will give us 20 extra seats. That is not the basis of which to proceed with major constitutional reform."

SANDYS LAURAA dissenting voice came from Laura Sandys, who claimed on BBC News that an elected Lords would be better able to scrutinise the executive:

"Absolutely not. I think this is an extraordinary piece of legislation in many ways. This is legislation brought forward by a government which actually gives Parliament more power over the executive. We will actually end up with a proper, fully-fledged bicameral system, which will ensure that Parliament can hold government more to account, in many ways ensure that we get better legislation, and possibly from a Conservative point of view desirable with less legislation."


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8 May 2012 13:03:56

The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record

By Matthew Barrett
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Screen shot 2010-06-16 at 18.02.09Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the University of Nottingham have released a new pamplet - "The Bumper Book of Coalition Rebellions", which documents the 239  backbench rebellions so far in this Parliament, in which 544 votes have been held. 

The pamplet takes us from the first rebellion, on the government’s control of time in the Commons, to the last, on Sunday Trading during the Olympics. This Parliament has seen more rebellions by government MPs than in any other session in the post-war era. As "The Bumper Book" says, "It comfortably beats the previous record of 128, held by Conservative MPs in the 1971-72 session. Indeed, a figure of 239 is higher than all but three entire post-war parliaments."

In fact, there were more rebellions in the last two years than there were between 1945 and 1966 - a period which saw six Prime Ministers and six parliaments. On a different measure, the "relative rate of rebellion", this session's 239 rebellions constitute a rebellion by Coalition MPs in 44% of divisions, which is a record in post-war parliaments. The 44% figure can be broken down further: Conservative MPs have rebelled in 28% of votes, while Lib Dems have rebelled in 24% of votes.

It is also notable how much of a contrast there is between the 2010-12 session and most first sessions in a parliament. As the pamplet says: "The rebellion rate for coalition MPs collectively is way above all other first sessions in the post-war era (the previous record was 28%, for Labour MPs in the 2005-6 session, as the party entered its third, and most troublesome, parliament under Tony Blair)".

Continue reading "The 2010-12 parliamentary session was the most rebellious on record" »

4 May 2012 12:05:47

Record of how Conservative MPs are reacting to the local election results

A variety of reactions are pasted in this blog. The names of those calling for some change of message, priority or operational changes are emboldened. We have also included the contributions of MPs who have not advocated substantial changes.

5.45pm A little round-up of what Tory MPs have said during the day:

David Ruffley MP advocated radical economic measures - and a withdrawal from the Coalition if Lib Dems won't back them:

"I think now with the position now where there was a Coalition Agreement two years ago but quite a few senior colleagues think that was then, this is now. We didn't think two years ago that the economy would still be flat on its back and everything now has to be directed towards getting the British economy going. And yes it does mean looking at tax again but also, a freer labour market, the hiring and firing proposals to make sure that young people aren't turned away from jobs because of the very onerous social employment protection legislation in this country, so we should say to the Liberals on things like that which they are blocking, 'Listen we are in a real hole now. We need some radical economic polices put in place and you go with it and if you don't, we how would you like a general election?'"

Peter Bone MP urged the Government to drop any "wishy-washy" policies in the Queen's Speech:

"You can see what happens when there is a Conservative Government, because there was a Conservative Government run in London by Boris and he got re-elected. He put forward Conservative policies and he got re-elected and he bucked the national trend, and that really should be a message for the Coalition. Be more conservative and be less liberal wishy-washy and I think that’s what the voters would like to see in the Queen’s speech.” 

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14 Feb 2012 08:13:26

Zac Goldsmith voted the most fanciable male MP (again)

By Matthew Barrett
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GOLDSMITH ZACSky News' annual St Valentine’s Day poll, compiled by Sky News’ political team sees the Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, retaining his position as the most fanciable male MP.

Labour's Luciana Berger also retained her position as the most fanciable female MP, although Tory women are rated as the most attractive with 6 listed in the top 10, while Labour have 4 and the Lib Dems have none. Despite Goldsmith's first place, Labour men did best overall with 5 entries, but the Tories were just behind with 4 places.

Nick Clegg is the only Liberal Democrat to feature in this year’s list, and the only party leader to qualify - both David Cameron and Ed Miliband missed out, although the senior Miliband brother makes 6th place. 

Here is the full list (with last year’s rankings in brackets) for Sky's Most Fanciable MP 2012:


  1. Zac Goldsmith (Con, Richmond Park) (1)
  2. Chuka Umunna (Lab, Streatham) (1)
  3. Andy Burnham (Lab, Leigh) (4)
  4. Dan Jarvis (Lab, Barnsley Central)
  5. Nick Clegg (Lib, Sheffield Hallam) (8)
  6. David Miliband (Lab, South Shields) (6)
  7. Dominic Raab (Con, Esher and Walton)
  8. Matt Hancock (Con, West Suffolk)
  9. Tristram Hunt (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent Central) (10)
  10. Jo Johnson (Con, Orpington)


  1. Luciana Berger (Lab, Liverpool Wavertree) (1)
  2. Louise Mensch (Con, Corby) (4)
  3. Nicola Blackwood (Con, Oxford West and Abingdon)
  4. Stella Creasy (Lab, Walthamstow) (8)
  5. Gloria De Piero (Lab, Ashfield) (4)
  6. Esther McVey (Con, Wirral West) (8)
  7. Rushanara Ali (Lab, Bethnal Green and Bow) (6)
  8. Penny Mordaunt (Con, Portsmouth North)
  9. Priti Patel (Con, Witham) (8)
  10. Charlotte Leslie (Con, Bristol North West)

20 Jan 2012 07:24:52

"Sir Humphrey" recall proposals for MPs slammed by Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith

By Joseph Willits 
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Both Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith condemned Government proposals yesterday for the recall of MPs for wrongdoing when they appeared before the Commons's political and constitutional reform committee. The plans would mean that if over 10% of constituents signed a petition calling for a by-election, an MP could be recalled providing they had spent less than twelve months in prison or if the Commons' disciplinary committee recommends that a petition takes place.

However, a committee of MPs would be given the power to define what constitutes a recall. Goldsmith suggested that this could lead to unfair outcomes, given that other MPs were making the decision to recall another member:

Goldsmith"You could be the world's worst ever MP without breaking a single thing in the (MPs) code (of conduct) because it relates to financial things. Or vice-versa, you could by accident break one of those codes - not registering a bottle of wine given to you by a friendly constituent for example - which could be a genuine error. But that might be an excuse for the committee to qualify you for recall because you might be a unpleasant character and not popular in the House."

Carswell likened the proposals to something that Sir Humphrey would have come up with. MPs he said, would not be accountable to the people, but rather to other MPs:

"Sir Humphrey Appleby came up with a system that Sir Humphrey Appleby would perhaps like, which is to keep the people at bay and ministers seem to have gone along with it ... I think it is deeply and deliberately flawed. Instead of doing what recall should do, which is make all of us more outwardly accountable to the people, I think it will make us inwardly accountable to Westminster grandees."

Continue reading ""Sir Humphrey" recall proposals for MPs slammed by Douglas Carswell and Zac Goldsmith" »

29 Nov 2011 07:21:39

"Without a healthy environment we don't have an economy, we don't have a future" says Zac Goldsmith MP

By Joseph Willits 
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GoldsmithZac Goldsmith would rather be known by the term "effective backbencher", than "rebellious backbencher". In a BBC Hardtalk interview today with Zeinab Badawi, rebellion and party dissent over Europe and the environment, proved to be the main focus. Although critical of the Government over its handling of an EU referendum, Goldsmith insisted that he remained loyal to the party:

"I have voted with my party more than 90% of the time ... if that is anything other than loyal, then I think we need to rethink those terms" 

However, Goldsmith indicated his delight for fighting political causes and holding the Government to account as a backbencher, rather than in the "hellish existence" of a junior minister. "I didn't stand for election in order to have a lobotomy and to be programmed by a party leader", he said.

Goldsmith defended the Government on environmental policy, saying it had been "unfairly chastised" and that "twice as many environmental commitments as anything else ... [are] being delivered". He praised both the Green Investment Bank, saying it was "a step in the right direction", and the Green Deal. Although the Government was "beginning" to understand the priority behind environmental policies, he said, the Green Investment Bank, however, was "not big enough, or soon enough", and it was essential that Treasury got "behind... and turbocharged" the Green Deal.

Continue reading ""Without a healthy environment we don't have an economy, we don't have a future" says Zac Goldsmith MP " »

31 Aug 2011 14:29:55

Ten new MPs responsible for a quarter of all rebellious votes by Tory MPs

By Matthew Barrett
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COMMONS-sitting As reported last week, this Parliament has seen more rebellions than during the Major years, and in fact, the 2010 intake has been the most rebellious since at least 1945. The last Parliamentary year has seen Conservative rebellions on issues such as European bailouts, recognising marriage in the tax system, or on law and order matters.

An interesting new post by Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham's NottsPolitics blog shows just ten Conservative MPs from the 2010 intake are responsible for nearly a quarter of all rebellious votes by Conservative MPs. 

Their findings also show:

  • Tory newcomers have accounted for 31% of rebellious votes cast by all Conservative MPs
  • More 2010 intake Conservative MPs have rebelled (46), compared to Labour MPs (21) or the Lib Dems (7)
  • 31% of new Tory MPs have now rebelled
  • New Conservative rebels have cast 249 rebellious votes

Continue reading "Ten new MPs responsible for a quarter of all rebellious votes by Tory MPs" »