It was a principled tweet referring to the peerage system which millions of people would almost certainly have agreed with.
“Seedy lists of party apparatchiks appointed by power hungry party leaders & insulated from any democratic pressure for 15 yrs?” wrote Zac Goldsmith in 2012. “No thanks.”
The missive resurfaced on Thursday hours after it turned out that the 44-year-old’s answer to being offered the chance to become such a seedy party apparatchik was in fact: yes please.
It means that, despite losing three elections in just four years, this son of a billionaire has managed to be promoted to, and then retain, one of the most important offices of state.
“Evidence you can be born to a billionaire, go to Eton…become an MP on the back of no discernible talent, fail to get elected Mayor, lose your seat twice and yet still rise above it all to be made a Peer by an old family friend,” wrote one Twitter user, capturing something of a prevailing mood on the social media site. “Such a heartwarming story.”
Downing Street refused to respond to allegations of hypocrisy on Mr Goldsmith’s part. When asked how Mr Johnson had convinced Mr Goldsmith to take the peerage given his previous criticism, a spokesman said: “I don’t have details of any conversations.”
The same spokesman also dismissed allegations of cronyism, saying the the failed politician – who lost his seat to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney – was “doing an excellent and committed job in cabinet, dealing with really important issues, and he will now be able to get on with that work and carry on delivering”.
Old Etonian Mr Goldsmith is a friend of both the prime minister and his partner Carrie Symonds, who worked on his failed bid to succeed Mr Johnson as London mayor in 2016.
His new appointment came after Nicky Morgan controversially kept her cabinet post as culture secretary, despite standing down as an MP at last week’s election, when she was made a life peer.
Mr Goldsmith’s post about “seedy lists” came at a time when Nick Clegg was talking up reforms to the House of Lords, and The Independent understands the tweet was a reference to these since-rejected proposals.
Mr Goldsmith declined to comment when asked if it was hypocritical to accept the peerage given his previous criticism.