Bristol went to the polls on Thursday May 5 to vote for a Mayor. Incumbent George Ferguson was standing again and so was Labour's Marvin Rees. The turnout in 2012 had been low, at 27.92%. In working class areas, the turnout then had been especially low compared with more affluent areas. And so a privileged few on a very low turnout had voted in the so-called 'independent' Ferguson, complete with his gimmicky red trousers.
Turn the clock forward to May 5, 2016 and the results have been very different. Marvin received 68,750 votes to Ferguson’s 39,577, a massive majority for Labour! The overall turnout was high at 44.87% and, from the breakdown of stats, especially high in working class areas. We have had four years of Ferguson with his frivolous vanity projects such as support for big business friendly ventures (one being the Bristol Arena). In the meantime, the housing crisis has been as bad for ordinary people as it has been elsewhere, educational results in Bristol schools are drifting into being indifferent and public transport is extremely poor.
Against a backdrop of embittered Blairites and right-wing pundits baying for Jeremy Corbyn’s blood, Thursday's magnificent result shows that when we organise in working class areas and get out the vote, we can win. Bristol mainly consists of suburban sprawl with a mix of well-to-do areas, poor inner-city areas, working class council estates and 'middle England' areas. It is exactly the kind of place where the right wing pundits sneeringly tell us that Labour under Jeremy cannot succeed. Except that now we can.
is a welfare rights advisor, active trade unionist and member of Brislington East CLP.