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Politics review #6: all the latest local politics

Welcome back to Politics Review! In case you missed it, there was an election a few weeks ago. In short:

  • Labour’s Marvin Rees is the new mayor of Bristol, having beaten George Ferguson 63-37.
  • Labour now have a majority on the Bristol City Council.
  • Independent Sue Mountstevens was re-elected as Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.

Find out more about the results here, and read my analysis of who won and who lost here.

Read on to find out what’s been going on in Bristol politics (besides the election) over the past few months.


Mayor Marvin’s new team

Marvin Rees's new 'rainbow cabinet'. Top (L-R): Mark Bradshaw, Fi Hance, Paul Smith, Helen Holland, Marg Hickman. Bottom (L-R): Clare Hiscott, Estella Tincknell, Marvin Rees, Craig Cheney, Clare Campion-Smith. Photo credit: Bristol City Council
Marvin Rees’s new ‘rainbow cabinet’.
Top (L-R): Mark Bradshaw, Fi Hance, Paul Smith, Helen Holland, Marg Hickman.
Bottom (L-R): Claire Hiscott, Estella Tincknell, Marvin Rees, Craig Cheney, Clare Campion-Smith.
Photo credit: Bristol City Council

Marvin Rees has appointed his cabinet (pictured above), which is responsible for implementing policy. He stuck to his promise to appoint councillors from all parties, with one member each from the Conservatives, the Greens and the Lib Dems, as well as six from Labour.
They are:

Estella Tincknell (Labour, Lockleaze) — Deputy Mayor, with special responsibility for Democracy, Culture, Policy, Strategy and Communications, and International Issues

A Councillor since 2013 who is also an Associate Professor of Film and Culture at UWE, she takes on a very important job.

Paul Smith (Labour, Central) — Cabinet Member for Homes

Smith, a veteran housing professional elected this year, is responsible for delivering one of Marvin Rees’s main pledges — the construction of 2000 houses a year, of which 800 will be affordable.

Helen Holland (Labour, Hartcliffe and Withywood) — Cabinet Member for Place, with special responsibility for the Arena

Holland was the leader of the Labour group on the council prior to the election, and was previously leader of the Bristol City Council between 2007 and 2009. Before entering politics, she was a teacher. She has served on the council since 1991.

Craig Cheney (Labour, Hillfields) — Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Performance

Cheney, first elected last year, is responsible for budgetary issues.

Mark Bradshaw (Labour, Bedminster) — Cabinet Member for Transport

Bradshaw returns to his transport post in the cabinet, having been sacked by George Ferguson last year following a dispute over plans to sell the council’s stake in the city port. He also sought unsuccessfully Labour’s nomination for the Bristol mayoral election, losing out to Marvin Rees.

Marg Hickman (Labour, Lawrence Hill) — Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods

Hickman, a Councillor since 2011, is also a life coach.

Claire Hiscott (Conservative, Horfield) — Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

The sole Conservative in the cabinet, her appointment has already attracted some controversy from the National Union of Teachers.

Clare Campion-Smith (Liberal Democrat, Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze) — Cabinet Member for People

The only Lib Dem in the cabinet, Campion-Smith is the current Lord Mayor (but not for much longer, it’s a one-year ceremonial post).

Fi Hance (Green, Redland) — Cabinet Member for City Health and Wellbeing

Hance, the sole Green member, remains in the cabinet, having served in a job-share under George Ferguson in the Neighbourhoods brief since last year.
Labour’s election manifesto is still online — feel free to read it to get an idea of what the new council might be getting up to over the next four years.

Marvin Rees has also been interviewed by the Guardian.


The EU referendum

Less than a month to go until the country goes to vote on the question of whether the UK should remain or leave the European Union. Here’s what’s been going on at a local level:

  • Tory MPs Liam Fox and Jacob Rees-Mogg (more on him later) have been characteristically banging on about Europe. They’ve said and done so much that I wouldn’t dream of recapping it all, but if there’s an EU-related story in the press, chances are at least one of them is quoted commenting on it.

Boris Johnson Comes To Bristol

Boris Johnson meets Vote Leave activists in Bristol. Liam Fox can also be seen smiling in the left of the picture.
Boris Johnson meets Vote Leave activists in Bristol. Liam Fox can also be seen smiling in the left of the picture.

The former mayor of London Boris Johnson came to Bristol earlier this month to speak to ‘Vote Leave’ activists alongside the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox. Our political editor was able to infiltrate the event to hear the two anti-EU politicians speak.
Fox came on first and warmed the crowd up. “This isn’t leaving the EU,” he said, “this is rejoining the rest of the world!”
He also criticised President Obama, who recently came to the UK to warn against leaving the EU.
“Excuse me Mr President, we weren’t at the ‘back of the queue’ when you needed us in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he remarked.
Boris Johnson then appeared, to the delight of the activists, and delivered a typically amusing speech, likening the Out campaign’s mission to leave the EU to the story of David and Goliath.
At the end, the pair took a few questions, before Johnson met activists and took some selfies.

  • Labour’s pro-EU battle bus was also in Bristol that weekend, with shadow cabinet members Chris Bryant and Seema Malhotra joining Marvin Rees, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth and South West MEP Clare Moody on the Downs to speak in favour of a Remain vote in the upcoming referendum.
  • Speaking of Boris Johnson, this lovely piece of art popped up on Stokes Croft the other day.

Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour leader must really like Bristol. It was barely a week after he came down to congratulate Marvin Rees on his mayoral election victory when he returned to speak at a pro-EU rally.

Whilst here, he had a sit down with Joey Essex, the TV star. They discussed everything from the EU referendum to tuition fees. Essex even offered the Labour leader some fashion tips.
You can read more about that meeting here.

  • Happy birthday in advance to Jeremy Corbyn, who turns 67 on Thursday!

Mogg watch

Speaking of birthdays, everyone’s favourite MP for North East Somerset turned 47 yesterday — many happy returns from the team at Berkeley Squares!
To celebrate his birthday, he made the news by outsmarting the Governor of the Bank of England at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee.
In other Jacob Rees-Mogg news:

More birthdays

Since I’ve already wished two politicians a happy birthday, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP for Kingswood in South Gloucestershire, who turned 35 last week.


Devolution deal latest

Back in March, George Osborne announced a new mayor for the West of England (comprising Bristol, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire), with the first elections set for May 2017.

Each of the councils involved will meet to discuss the deal next month, and, according to the Bristol Post, all except North Somerset are expected to approve it, meaning that the deal could still possibly go ahead, only without North Somerset. David Cameron has said that the new powers on offer are only accessible if a new Metro Mayor is introduced.


Westminster watch

Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire is back in Parliament, having recovered from breast cancer. She has been sitting on the opposition frontbench in her capacity as a shadow minister for Culture, Media and Sport. She even appeared on the front page of the Morning Star, in which she discussed Labour’s plans for the arts.
There is a good interview in the Bristol Post with Debbonaire and Luke Hall, MP for Thornbury and Yate, on each of their first years in Parliament.


Quiz answer

At the end of the last Politics review I asked:

Of all the MPs who attend Cabinet (i.e. Secretaries of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, minister without portfolio, etc.), whose Constituency is geographically closest to Bristol?

I gave you all a clue that the MP in question appeared somewhere in the article. The MP is…

David Cameron speaks at PMQs in March. Chief Whip Mark Harper, whose constituency is geographical closest to Bristol of all Cabinet ministers, is shown (circled) in the bottom right of the photo. Photo from parliamentlive.tv
David Cameron speaks at PMQs in March. Chief Whip Mark Harper, whose constituency is geographical closest to Bristol of all Cabinet ministers, is shown (circled) in the bottom right of the photo. Photo from parliamentlive.tv

Mark Harper, the Chief Whip and MP for the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire. His constituency lies just across the Severn from Bristol and its closest point is just under the Severn Bridge (M48). Congratulations if you got him!

In second place at the time of asking was Oliver Letwin (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) of West Dorset and in third was David Cameron (Prime Minister) of Witney, Oxfordshire. However, just three days after the post was published, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith made a dramatic exit from the Cabinet. Stephen Crabb took his old job at the DWP and Alun Cairns joined the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales. Cairns, the MP for Vale of Glamorgan, now has the second closest constituency to Bristol of a Cabinet member.


That is all. Hope you enjoyed the politics!