Posts Tagged ‘Bristol West’

Bristol West environmentally themed hustings at the watershed featuring Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green Candidate.  Unedited sorry that means this stream lasts for two hours.




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One of the amazing and exciting things about my election campaign in Bristol West is the number of people who are playing a key role who are not members of the Labour Party.  For many and various reasons we have drawn in people with no previous involvement in politics and in some cases people who voted against Labour in 2005.

The campaign itself is built on a strong foundation of local labour activists and organisation but has managed to reach out into new communities and younger people.  The team includes a small group of Somali professionals keen to raise the profile and voice of their community, young people with amazing skills and energy who do not want to be left on the sidelines and even people from the social media world who are predicting a change in the whole way that politics will be shaped by the internet in the future.  In addition to this there is a significant number of people I have worked with in the past from the homelessness sector, trade unionists, political activists beyond the Labour party (I have had pledges of support from some of those involved in smaller parties, some Green Party people and even a Lib Dem) and also parts of the business community that have thrown their weight behind my candidacy.

While this creates excitement and vibrancy and a belief that the polls only tell one part of the story of the shifts in opinion in the constituency, it also creates responsibilities and challenges. For me it creates a depth of accountability which goes beyond traditional party politics.  In some ways it is taking the campaign back to Labour’s real roots, and I don’t mean the tired debate of ‘old’ versus ‘new’ labour.  Labour’s traditional roots were in working class communities, faith organisations, trade unions and radical intellectuals.  For the Labour Party to have a future in needs to reembed itself in community. It needs to seeks its legitimacy not from the party hierarchy but from the people. It has been said that “All politics is local” and even global issues find their roots in community action. We need to recreate our politics from communities up.  Politicians should be reflecting local views and acting as local facilitators not just broadcasting the party line.  I didn’t join the Labour Party because i wanted to be told what I believed, I joined it because I believe in things and want to make a difference.

Of course now the range of communities is much greater, faith does not just mean Christian, community does not just mean the workplace and the home.  People come together in many ways and are parts of many communities; groups formed around family, school and childcare, groups with common interests, professions, communities of ethnicity and identity and many more.  Bristol West is so exciting because of its enormous diversity, its multitude of communities.  The challenge is to become part of many of those communities, to locate accountability and representation in those many communities and to find ways to bring them together around the issues of common interest which many of them share.  That is the challenge not just of my campaign but also of the role of MP if elected.

Want to get involved?

the Local Labour Party now has a campaign office staffed in working hours at St Nicholas House, High Street, Bristol BS1 2AW (between St Nicholas Market and Bristol Bridge).  Tel: 0117 315 5216  email: info@bristolwestlabourparty.org.uk

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99 Red Balloons

Dubious use of word red from a song title to post my interview with the Redland People website.



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Some Might Say


Oh dear it sounds like I was being sponsored to say “community” as many times as possible.

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Look Here

This fortnight’s Venue magazine (available from all good Bristol Newsagents and Supermarkets for the bargain price of £1.50) has Eugene Byrne’s predictions for 2010.  The section on Bristol West stated:

“More exciting still (you are excited at the back there, aren’t you) is Bristol West, where loads of Venue readers live.  The MP here since 2005 has been LibDem Stephen Williams . Back in the day, Bristol West was a three-way marginal, which could, and did, fall to any of the three main parties. Not any more. Boundary changes have hived off lots of Tory territory, and brought in more inner city, including Easton and Lawrence Hill. While the LibDems will fight furiously to keep the seat, they have two disadvantages. First, Stephen Williams  has not really carved out a name for himself in Westminster to raise his profile, and second, the Labour contender is as strong as they come.  Paul Smith, Bristol born and bred, is well-known locally (former councillor) and he’s pretty slick when it comes to distancing himself from unpopular New Labour measures.  Bristol West also turns out strongly for the Green Party; until recently they were aiming to field a ‘celebrity’ candidate like Jonathan Porritt or George Monbiot in the hope of actually taking it.  As it is, they have Ricky Knight, former Euro candidate and quite an experienced campaigner. The outcome here might well turn on a handful of votes, so if you want to waste Stephen Williams’s or Paul Smith’s time on the doorstep, tell them you are thinking of voting Green.”

For more background on the seat see previous Blog:


I will add Eugene Byrne’s Blog details to the Blogroll as he has started writing it again

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(Extract from my mail to local residents)

2010 is going to be a critical year for this city, country and the world.

We enter the year with the world coming slowly out of economic recession but without any legally binding agreement on how to tackle climate change and with war continuing in Afghanistan.

In Britain there is a debate about tackling the budget deficit and the future of public services.  I think we need to back the people who deliver the wide range of essential services such as health, education, policing, higher education and care, protecting frontline and support services with any cut backs focussed on glossy PR, unnecessary bureaucracy, expensive overcomplicated IT projects and management consultancy.

I would be keen to know your views. I believe that the days of politicians broadcasting the party line without consideration of local views or deeper principles are over. My political party is my platform and not my prison.  I was involved as a community activist before joining a political party and am happy to work with people from other parties or from none where we share views. For example I was involved in the campaign to save the Bristol-Bath railway path with Greens, Respect and Lib Dems and other wide ranging work on opposing the BNP and supporting expansion and improvement of the local rail network.

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Famine, War, Want and Williams

The Green Party has selected Ricky Knight from West Devon as their parliamentary candidate for Bristol West. Knight makes a great deal of the Green’s local election results and suggests that the seat is a ‘four horse race’.

Local election results have a poor record in predicting general elections and in Bristol west this is particularly tough. When Valerie Davey won Bristol West for labour in 1997, she received 6,000 votes more than the Labour local election candidates and on that day of Labour Landslide the Lib Dems won Cotham ward from Labour.  In 2001 Labour had another landslide but the Lib Dems secured their grip on Bishopston and Redland wards.  It is clear that the Liberal Democrats do much better in council elections in the constituency than they do in the parliamentary seat. In 1987 and 1992 Labour Party activists were told how local election results in key seats showed that they were about to win the general election, they didn’t.

The greens have also had a strong showing in local election results in the area for some years now but have failed to turn it into general election voting.  There are two factors which affect this:

1) Split voting – people voting one way at local elections and another at general elections.  Some of this is about specific candidates who tend to have a larger influence at local level.  Some people also use local elections to ‘punish’ the main parties.  Others vote on ‘local’ issues in council elections and national/international issues in the General.

2) Differential turnout. The number of people voting in local elections is smaller than in general elections. Those voting at the local level are not a representative sample of the voting electorate in general elections. Those who are more passionate about politics and more engaged in the local community are more likely to vote locally, also those who have been contacted by or know the candidates.  The general election turnout is likely to be around twice as high as the council elections and the main parties do better partly because general election coverage is focussed on who is likely to form a Government.

There are two websites that seek to identify the starting point for the 2010 general election taking account of the Parliamentary boundaries:

Electoral Calculus http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk (this site also allows you to type opinion poll results into a calculator and predict the general election result in any seat, it also does its own calculations monthly on average of polls – popular with political geeks)

Its starting point for election (i.e. its calculation of the 2005 result on new boundaries is)

Lib Dem     18,157   38%

Labour       17,709  37%

Con                8,380  18%

Others          3,539     7% (this would be mainly green votes but also Respect/socialist Labour)

Majority       448       0.9%

UK Polling report http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog (this site analyses all polls and also has a rolling average but doesn’t predict the results in individual seats only overall)

Lib Dem    18,051  41%

Labour      17,411  39%

Con               6,117  14%

Other           3,010   7%

Majority        640   1.4%

These are both independent sites with no party political bias.  Although Knight is the best name of all the candidates for a horseman this seat is a two horse race.


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