The election results from Bristol came in over the weekend, and it is worth reflecting the degree to which they demonstrate significant advance, particularly as Labour does need to win in the South of England.
Simon Woolley has already observed the enormous significance of a mayor of Afro-Caribbean heritage being directly elected in a city whose wealth was built on the crime of slavery, and where racial division has many times cast a long shadow over the city’s history.
The mayoral incumbent, the Independent George Ferguson, was swept aside by a tsunami of support for Labour. Marvin Rees (LAB): 63.5% George Ferguson (Bristol First): 36.5%
Elsewhere, Labour gained ground right across the city, winning seats from every party.
LAB: 37 (+7) CON: 14 (-2) GRN: 11 (-3) LDEM: 8 (-1) UKIP: 0 (-1)
Advances which gave Labour overall control of the council.
LAB: 37 CON: 14 GRN: 11 LDEM: 8
Bristol is a city with a distinctive political and social micro-climate, often non-conformist and individualist. The idiosyncratic George Ferguson fitted like a glove with the self-image and aspirations of the wealthier parts of the city.
But Ferguson’s administration has seemed deaf and blind to the needs of less affluent Bristolians. The landslide victory for Labour is therefore partially an assertion of class into politics, but at the same time the breadth of its success shows that the party has succeeded in reaching out beyond the core vote. This has been done be emphasizing that social justice and good governance go hand in hand.
While the press has focused upon divisions, whether real or imagined, between Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn; this substantial success in Bristol has clearly been associated with the Labour leader, showing that while we still have a long way to go before 2020, if the party unites behind Corbyh, we can win.