Politics review #4

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Does no one tire of big business controlling our politics?

Does no one tire of big business controlling our politics?

Hey there, are you hungry for some local politics?

Well, you’re in luck — here’s a delicious fourteen course meal:

The race begins!

George Ferguson (Bristol 1st) and Marvin Rees (Labour) both launched their mayoral campaigns the week before last, while long-shot Laurence Duncan dropped out. UKIP also finally announced their mayoral candidate. Read all about it here.

Below are the latest odds:

Latest odds on 2016 Mayoral Election
Candidate Odds
George Ferguson (Bristol 1st) 1/2
Marvin Rees (Labour) 2/1
Charles Lucas (Conservative) 16/1
Tony Dyer (Green) 33/1
Kay Barnard (Liberal Democrat) 100/1
Paul Turner (UKIP) 100/1
John Langley (Independent) 200/1
Paul Saville (Independent) 200/1
Christine Townsend (Independent) 200/1
Don’t understand odds? See here.
Source: Ladbrokes, as of 22 February 2016.

Are EU ready?

Does the mere sight of this flag render you revolted? If so, a 'Leave' vote is probably the choice for you.

Does the mere sight of this flag render you revolted? If so, a ‘Leave’ vote is probably the choice for you.

Speaking of campaign launches, the Prime Minister on Saturday officially fired the starting gun on the EU referendum campaign, announcing June 23 as polling day, having negotiated a new ‘deal’ for Britain.

All three of Bristol’s Labour MPs will be voting to stay in, as will Bath’s Ben Howlett (who describes himself as a “political champion for Britain Stronger in Europe”), Kingswood’s Chris Skidmore, and Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose. Liam Fox (North Somerset) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) are both outspoken advocates of leaving the EU (I’ve written a piece on both of their leadership chances here), and Jack Lopresti is in favour of an ‘Out’ vote as well. Charlotte Leslie remains undecided (she has written an article on the EU debate), while I can’t find any information on how Luke Hall intends to vote. Read more about all of their reasons.

Is all this EU business leaving you confused? Here’s a basic guide to it all.

Do you have an opinion of your own? Take part in our poll below:

[poll id=”7″]

Stephen Williams Follows The Money

Stephen Williams, the former Lib Dem MP for Bristol West who lost his seat last year after ten years, has embarked on a crusade to uncover the truth about how exactly £7 million of Green Capital funds were spent by Bristol 2015 Ltd (a private company set up to manage events over the course of the year), as the details are currently being kept secret. The Council responded, but still refused to disclose the line by line accounts. Activists, including Williams and mayoral candidates Kay Barnard (Lib Dem) and Paul Saville (independent), protested outside a ceremony at the Colston Hall during which the European Green Capital was handed over to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Williams, still frustrated by the lack of answers, wrote another letter to the Chief Executive of the Council. In an interview with ITV News several days later, Ferguson launched what Williams called a “nasty personal attack” on him.

The dispute is still ongoing.

Speaking of the Green Capital project, here is the New Statesman’s CityMetric site on it.

In other green news, the Bristol Post asks how Ferguson’s “war on cars” is progressing.

Meet Larry the Lion

Leave.EU, one of the numerous organisations competing to become the official ‘Out’ campaign in the upcoming EU referendum (see The Chaos Formula), has outdone itself.

They managed to get none other than Larry the Leave.EU lion to come to an event called ‘The Great British Coffee Morning’ at Old Down Country Park. Unfortunately, our Political Editor only found out about the event after it had happened, leaving him more than a little bit disappointed. He did, however, find a few photos of the occasion (below).

Questions to the Prime Minister

Charlotte Leslie asked David Cameron during a session of PMQs:

Our prisons can still be centres of radicalisation. Will the Prime Minister look at all measures, including those in the all-party parliamentary group for boxing report, for preventing troubled young people from falling into the jaws of those dangerously screwed up and predatory extremists?
Charlotte Leslie MP

The Prime Minister responded:

My honourable Friend is absolutely right. It is very disturbing that, when people are in our care and when the state is looking after them, on some occasions, they have been radicalised because of what they have heard in prison either from other prisoners, or on occasion, from visiting imams. We need to sort this situation out. The Justice Secretary has put in place a review. I will look carefully at the report my honourable Friend mentions, but, if anything, we must ensure that people who are already radicalised when they go to prison are de-radicalised rather than made worse.
David Cameron MP

So there we have it.

I've been looking for an excuse to use this photo again...

I’ve been looking for an excuse to use this photo again…


Sue Mountstevens, the Independent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Avon and Somerset since November 2012, has confirmed she will stand for re-election in the upcoming vote, which will take place at the same time as the mayoral and local council elections. If you’re not sure who or what I’m talking about, you can read Florian Howe’s explanation.

Labour have just announced their PCC candidate, while the Conservatives chose theirs back in October.

Mogg Watch

Jacob Rees-Mogg, on top of his aforementioned anti-EU duties, has been very busy, writing an article for the Guardian defending the use of vellum for writing laws on.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, attending a 'Refugees Welcome Here' rally on the day of his election as leader. Photo credit: RonF, Flickr.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party.
Photo credit: RonF, Flickr.

The Red Flag

Hold on, we’ve come this far without a mention of Jeremy Corbyn? (well, he was mentioned in Fantastic Mr Fox, to which I linked earlier)

Anyway, a bunch of comedians, musicians, poets and speakers are touring the country in support of Our Jezza, including Billy Bragg and Jeremy Hardy. Unfortunately, Mr Corbyn will not be in attendance, having been to several events already, but Labour’s mayoral candidate Marvin Rees will be.

Buy tickets here.

Does the maths add up?

Does the maths add up?


All seventy of Bristol’s local councillors sat down with George Ferguson to negotiate the annual budget. Money’s always tight, so there was inevitably some controversy over how the funds would be allocated. You can read Bristol 24/7’s report of it here.

Dawn Primarolo’s Golden Goodbye

Dawn Primarolo, former Labour MP for Bristol South and Deputy Speaker now sitting in the House of Lords, was honoured with a £2000 standing down dinner by John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Karin Smyth Joins The Resistance!

Dawn Primarolo’s successor in Bristol South, Karin Smyth, has joined a group called Labour for the Common Good, aka The Resistance (although they do promise they’re nothing of the sort)! Smyth, who supported Yvette Cooper in last year’s leadership election, chaired the group’s latest meeting on the path to victory in 2020. If you’re at all interested in that sort of stuff, you can read her report here.

Sajid Javid’s Bristol Inspiration

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of Business, Innovation and Skills who grew up in Easton, gave a speech on the people who inspired him. You can read it here.

Javid is one of a number of sons of bus drivers [warning, link contains industrial language!] currently playing a prominent role in British politics, alongside Sadiq Khan (Labour’s mayoral candidate in London) and John McDonnell (Labour’s Shadow Chancellor).

Great Western Powerhouse

Bristol, Cardiff and Newport have launched a joint bid for a “Great Western Powerhouse” along the lines of the Northern Powerhouse. Economic benefits are expected but there have been some obstacles.

In other Great Western news, Bristol Temple Meads station could be in line for privatisation. Read more.

Who will speak for Bristol?

I’ve already written a bit about George Ferguson’s campaign strategy, but I thought you might like some more.

Imagine my excitement whilst at Rise searching for a Beatles album when I came across something even better — an as-yet-unseen-by-me George Ferguson leaflet on the floor! The front of the leaflet tells us a lot about one of the central parts of his strategy, at both this election and the last, which is to portray himself as an independent force free from party politics. As he put it in the leaflet: “I’m not accountable to political leaders in London. We make policy in Bristol, not in Westminster.” It’s a good line (similar tactics are used all around the world), and follows the “all politics is local” quote I used to open the last Politics Review article.

All seriousness aside, I spotted two interesting things about this leaflet. First, that the headquarters of Bristol 1st (the ‘party of one’ campaigning for Ferguson’s re-election as mayor) are on Great George Street. Secondly, that despite boasting that he was the only candidate who could speak for Bristol, as opposed to his rivals in political parties, it turns out that the leaflet was made by a printing company called ‘Whitehall’. Could it be that Ferguson is London’s candidate after all?1

That’s all from me, see you again next time!

  1. In all fairness, the leaflet goes out of its way to tell us that this is the Whitehall in Avon, not London.