The final hustings of the campaign on Tuesday night, attended by 250 people, showed up the weakness of the two candidates. Zac Goldsmith’s idea of turning the by-election into a referendum on Heathrow clearly backfired as most of the audience wanted to talk about other policies, while Sarah Olney did not put forward a single idea for what she would do as MP.
I focussed both setting out what Labour stood for and on the failings of the other candidates. I explained how the by-election only happened because Zac did not manage to persuade his own party not to choose Heathrow as the site of the new runway.
Sarah Olney, for her part, represents a party that was complicit in the cuts made during the coalition and the imposition of austerity.
It was noticeable that cheers came from her side when I attacked Zac but she was unable or unwilling to land any punches on him. For his part, he did not answer my questions on whether he would apologise for his dreadful mayoral campaign in which he all but accused Sadiq of being complicit in terrorism.
I stressed that every single cut and closure damages society and, in a way, makes it less cohesive. It was Labour, I said, that stood for comprehensive rather than grammar schools, for building social housing, for spending more on education and the NHS.
The key lesson from this is clear. Sarah Olney is not a progressive alternative and only offers Tory-lite policies. If you have Labour values and want to see Labour do well at what is not an easy time for the party, there is only one choice. Vote Labour and demonstrate that progressive values prevail. There is a great write up of the event at http://labourlist.org/2016/11/wolmar-zacs-no-nice-guy-votes-to-cut-housing-benefit-and-slurs-against-sadiq-prove-that-/