LONDON — Labour’s candidate fared so badly in Thursday’s Richmond Park by-election that the party lost its deposit.
Under UK election law, any candidate running in a constituency election must pay a £500 deposit, which they receive back if they gather over 5% of the vote share. The law is intended to deter tiny, random parties and candidates from wasting government resources with vanity ballot appearances.
Yesterday, the Labour party’s Christian Wolmar received just 1,515 votes, 3.7% of the vote share. That is a dramatic drop since last year’s general election, when Labour’s candidate picked up 7,296 votes, or 12.3% of the vote.
The shock win for the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney in Richmond Park saw her overturn sitting Tory MP Zac Goldsmith’s huge 23,015 majority.
Goldsmith triggered the by-election after resigned from the Conservatives and re-ran as an independent. He wanted the by-election to be a debate on the government’s plans for a new runway at Heathrow, but the Liberal Democrats swept to victory after campaigning on an anti-Brexit platform.
Meanwhile, the Labour party’s unclear stance on Brexit and party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s terrible personal ratings appear to have had a big impact on its ability to win votes at the ballot box. Labour has never done well historically in Richmond. In 1997, at its peak, it received only 12.6% of the vote — 7,172 votes. Nonetheless, this is the first time Labour has lost its deposit in the constituency.