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Winners and losers in the 2016 elections

How did everyone do? See our summary of the results here.

Winner: Marvin Rees

Second time lucky, Marvin Rees is the biggest winner of the 2016 elections having been elected as the new mayor of Bristol by a decisive margin.

While winning any election like this is a huge achievement in itself, it is even more impressive considering Rees’s background. If you want to read a more detailed profile of Marvin Rees, Bristol 24/7 have done a good job here.

He’s got a tough job ahead of him — let’s hope he does a good job!

You can read his manifesto here.

Winner: Labour

Labour gained seven councillors in last Thursday’s election, giving them a majority and thus full control of Bristol City Council. While councillors have less power than they used to after the introduction of the mayoral system, a Labour majority will make it easier for Rees to implement his campaign promises and to pass his budgets.

For Bristol South MP Karin Smyth’s take on the election results and what they mean for the rest of Britain, see here.

Winner: Democracy

45% turnout might not sound great, but it is far better than usual (for instance, in the 2012 mayoral election just 28% of the electorate voted). In general, the more engaged the electorate, the better – so hurrah!

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol

Loser: George Ferguson

There’s no way around it – Thursday’s election was a rejection of George Ferguson and his three and a half years in office.

The scale of his defeat suggests this is as much of a vote against George as it was for Marvin. Keep in mind the saying that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them.

In his concession speech, he acknowledged that he had made some unpopular decisions, but said that, “if you want to be liked, don’t stand for office; if you really want to be liked, don’t say anything, don’t do anything, don’t be anything”.

He hopes to be remembered as a mayor who, as an architect, “built some good foundations” and “got things done”. His long service to Bristol before becoming mayor will be remembered.

Loser: The Green Party

Although the party only suffered a net loss of two seats, they lost a number of their most senior local figures, including group leader Ani Stafford-Townsend, former group leader Rob Telford, and assistant mayor Daniella Radice.

In 2015, at the height of the ‘Green Surge’, the Greens more than doubled their representation on the council from six councillors to thirteen, but only a third of council seats were up for election then, compared to all of them this year. Had they maintained their support levels from last year, they would have further undoubtedly won even more councillors, meaning the extent to which they went backwards at this election is disguised by the net loss figure.

The ‘Corbyn effect’ probably played a significant role, eating into the Greens’ support in liberal middle-class districts.

Loser: Charles Lucas

Poor guy. He not only lost the mayoral election for the Conservatives, coming third with 14%, but he also lost his Clifton seat on the Bristol City Council to the Greens. However, neither result was surprising for him. The Conservatives just don’t have enough support in Bristol to win a city-wide vote, at least not with a relatively unknown candidate, and one of the main reasons why he won the seat in 2013 is because the left-leaning vote was split  between the Liberal Democrats and an ‘Independents for Bristol’ candidate. One silver lining is that he increased the Conservative Party’s share of the vote in the mayoral race from 9% in 2012 to 14%. But then again, it’s possible that this increase is just down to a higher turnout of Conservative voters due to the council elections occurring at the same time.

Loser: Independents

One of George Ferguson's leaflets.
One of George Ferguson’s leaflets.

Sue Mountstevens’s re-election as police and crime commissioner aside (granted, she was beaten in Bristol by Labour), independents did badly in last week’s election. Ferguson was ousted as mayor of Bristol, none of the other independent mayoral candidates won over 1% of the vote, and independents failed to break through in any council seats.

Mountstevens’s campaign slogan to “keep politics out of policing” and Ferguson’s line that as an independent he was “not accountable to political leaders in London” and “[made] policy in Bristol, not in Westminster” evidently failed to cut through. While ‘independence’ might have been appealing last time, voters clearly judged Ferguson on his record above all else.

Loser: Mayor Festus Kubehindu

Not only did Mayor, who not only has a great name but a pretty amazing backstory, come last in the mayoral election with just 341 votes, but when he turned up to vote, he found  that his details had already been used by someone else.

Loser: political betters

George Ferguson was the clear favourite to win the race on Ladbrokes all throughout the election, never falling below a 57% chance of winning. Ladbrokes tweeted  that 77% of all money had been put on him. Rees, on the other hand, had far longer odds, hovering at a roughly 30% chance of winning throughout the race. Alas, they were wrong, and Rees won a landslide victory. To be fair, though, they had little information, such as opinion polls or sophisticated analysis in the media, on which to base their bets.

However, it should be noted that they got the last election wrong too, as a Rees victory was expected in 2012. Somewhat amusingly, this means that neither George Ferguson nor Marvin Rees actually won the election for which they were the favourite.

Loser: me

On the topic of political betting, I failed to take my own advice, which was to put money on Rees when his odds were at their longest in early May. Had I put £10 on, I could have made a £15 profit, which would have been nice. Instead, I actually leave the election £1 poorer, since I stupidly made a bet with a friend of mine that the Labour party would come from a distant third to take a council seat in my ward. My reasoning was that the (expected) Green to Labour swing would be enough to turn my seat at least partially red. Although this happened in a number of other seats, the swing was too small in mine, and Labour lost out on a seat by just 53 votes. I’m not sure if the lesson here is to never bet or to bet more often.

Loser: UKIP

UKIP lost its only councillor and failed to make significant ground anywhere else. As I’ve said before, Bristol isn’t exactly fertile ground for the party, and so resources are better spent elsewhere, especially given the fast approaching EU referendum. The party only stood candidates in six of the 34 wards. Mayoral candidate Paul Turner came sixth with just over 5% of the vote and PCC candidate Aaron Foot came fourth with 8.8% of the vote across Avon and Somerset, including 6.6% in Bristol.

Loser: candidates whose surnames start with a letter which is further down the alphabet than that of their running mates

This one’s a bit complicated, but a noticeable pattern is that in a ward where at least two seats are up for grabs and a party runs two candidates, the candidate whose surname starts with a higher letter alphabetically, and so appears higher on the ballot paper, tends to get more votes than the one whose surname starts with a letter which is lower down the alphabet.

Why does this happen? For a start, voters might not use all of their votes and so might just pick the candidate who appears first. Alternatively, they might want to vote for more than one party and then pick the first candidate alphabetically of each party.

Of course, there are other factors. In some cases, incumbents outperform their running mate, but not always. Gus Hoyt (Green, Ashley since 2011, making him the party’s second longest-serving councillor in the city) and Bill Payne (Labour, Frome Vale since 2013) both lost their seats to a candidate from their own party who had not served as a councillor before but whose surnames meant they appeared first on the ballot paper.

Loser: the rest of Avon and Somerset

While Bristol was treated to PCC, mayoral and council elections, the rest of Avon and Somerset had to do with just PCC elections. Unfortunately, people don’t much care about the role of police and crime commissioner (just one in ten could name their local commissioner ), meaning that voter turnout was dreadful outside Bristol where there weren’t any other elections taking place (44% in Bristol versus low 20s/high teens elsewhere). This gave Bristol a disproportionate level of influence in the election (26% of the electorate, 43% of the vote). This ultimately came to nothing, but had the Labour candidate won by a larger margin in Bristol, it’s possible that Avon and Somerset could have had a Labour police and crime commissioner, despite just 15.5% of votes being cast for Labour outside of Bristol.

Voter apathy wasn’t helped by the fact that the government didn’t send out information packages about the candidates ahead of the election (they were for the mayoral election), which is something Sue Mountstevens criticised in her acceptance speech.

One interesting thing to note is that Sue Mountstevens received an almost identical share of the vote in Bristol to fellow independent George Ferguson (23% for both, with Ferguson winning 981 more votes). This could be because a certain proportion of voters just dislike party politics in general, or because people wanted to preserve the status quo by re-electing the incumbents, or because someone who knew nothing about the PCC election decided to vote for an independent as they had already done so in a separate contest. However, the fact that Ferguson technically ran under the banner of ‘Bristol First’ instead of as an independent, so-to-say, makes this theory less likely.

See all results here.