Saturday, 30 January 2016

Accurate analysis of the Bedminster election results

Copy of a letter to the Bristol Post:  Ian Onions assessment (Post, 29  Dec 2015) of what the May 2016 election results are likely to be in Bristol is inaccurate. It does not accord with the facts from the 2015 elections and is not consistent with Bristol's recent electoral trends. 

Take Bedminster ward for example. Ian Onions describes it as a safe Labour seat and predicts that two Labour councillors will be elected. Yet in 2015 Labour achieved just under 34% of the vote and the Greens achieved just over 30% - a very close second place.  A swing to the Greens of under 2% is needed to win - therefore Bedminster is not a safe Labour seat and as the main challengers the Greens could win one or two of the seats.  The Green result last year was not a flash in the pan but part of a consistent upward trend. In 2010 we achieved approx 10%, in 2011 it was 15%. By 2014 the vote had grown to 22% and our position changed from 4th to 2nd. In 2015 we went closer still with 30%. In addition Greens have won in the neighbouring wards of Southville and Windmill Hill.

Furthermore the article states that the new Central ward will also return two Labour councillors. There is a ward name change, from Cabot, plus some slight boundary change, but Ian's assertion is again not founded in the electoral facts. Cabot was Liberal for many years and then Green Councillor Group Leader Ani Stafford-Townsend won with 38.5%, with Labour significantly behind behind on 22%.

Nowhere does Ian's assessment describe the doubling in the number of Green councillors from 7 to 14 last year. Nowhere does his assessment describe the very large surge in membership of the Green Party during 2015. Nowhere does it say that increasing Green electoral success has been a clear and consistent trend.  It's all to play for in the May 2016 mayoral and council elections in fact and Bristol's Greens are determined to continue the strong growth trend of recent years and make a difference for more and more people.


Glenn Vowles and Will Quick

Green Party Candidates for Bedminster

See the Bristol local election results data here.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Five pictures that speak many words

Just one moment from my 30+ yrs as a Green campaigner in Bristol, here (in 1989) on the need for clean, healthy air. Due to the persistent failure of those who have run central and local government we still have major traffic congestion, air pollution and consequently serious public health problems just over 26 yrs later. 
Climate change worse case scenario for the UK. Very alarming indeed. Flooding is hitting many in the UK increasingly hard and more often though. Those (blue, yellow and red politicians) who signed up to the Green concept of sustainable development as long ago as the 1980's have not implemented it.
Green economics - the key to achieving a sustainable society - is about investing, building & rebuilding anew, not cutting. Creating a fair, sustainable, circular economy meets our needs, sustains prosperity and safeguards resources and our environment.
My key party political focus in 2016 is being a candidate for the Green target seat of Bedminster and doing my bit as part of the Bristol Green Party management and election support groups. In May 2015 this (above) was the Green result there. Greens are now the main challengers to Labour and can win in May 2016 with a swing of just a few percent.

Green words that sum up what I stand for.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The nature and importance of community

A slightly edited version of this blog post was submitted as a statement from me to yesterdays meeting of Bristol City Council.

As a Green I'm for the common good. The idea of community is key to this, where people living close together interact and are mutually involved in local events and developments. This is a very important antidote to isolation and alienation, especially though not exclusively in cities. Community should be viewed as a necessity of everyday life, stemming from the sharing of qualities that come from rich diversity.

In every election I have contested I have advocated for strong, informed, involved, empowered, lively and resilient local communities with all the facilities and services to meet their needs. I am doing so again in my campaign to win in Bedminster this May. I'm provided with an excellent example to follow by all those involved in community action to save Faithspace, including the Green Councillors for Southville, Charlie Bolton and Steve Clarke who have:    

*Supported the campaign, which includes those in several political parties and those in no particular party, to save the Faithspace building for continued community use.

*Traced and described the history of the former Methodist church on Stackpool Road which the Methodists now intend to sell.

*Described the high strength of the Southville and Bedminster community and the key benefits this brings in people mutually supporting each other in the attempt to meet needs that exist and that arise from change (such as the shortage of nursery places).

*Indicated the importance, if the concept of community is to be applied in practice, of the availability of suitable physical spaces.

*Attained some the support from the mayor - and are seeking more.

*Appealed to the Methodists to really engage with the community and all its representatives.

John Wesley, who inspired Methodism, urged people to 'give all you can', so I hope that is what Methodists and everyone will do on working out the future of Faithspace.  

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Bristol and Bedminster campaigning

Eleanor Vowles (Windmill Hill Candidate), Green Leader
Natalie Bennett, Will Quick and Glenn Vowles
(Bedminster Candidates)
Great to meet with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett this past week when she visited Bristol again with a packed schedule, including Faithspace, the Malcolm X Centre and City to Sea amongst other things. We had time for a mini-meeting just after her arrival at Temple Meads and talked through some current local issues and the Bristol Greens 2016 local and mayoral election campaign and our ambition to continue increasing the number of Green councillors (currently 14, up from 6 in 2014 and 1 in 2006).

Natalie Bennett is a warm, friendly, personable leader. Her energy and commitment, going up and down the UK and appearing in/on the media as much as they will allow it (see Will Quick's petition on this here) is an encouragement and inspiration. Its one of the reasons why Green Party membership has grown so rapidly in recent years, not least in Bristol, and produced candidates like Will Quick in Bedminster and Eleanor Vowles in Windmill Hill.

Prince St Bridge surveying
The campaign to get two councillors elected in Bedminster is one key feature of Bristol Greens plans. Last weekend I was out on North St with Southville councillors and 2016 candidates Steve Clarke and Charlie Bolton collecting signatures on the Save Faithspace petition. This weekend I was at Prince Street bridge with Greens from Bedminster, Southville and the new Central ward surveying peoples views on whether the bridge should become pedestrians and cyclists only or should go back to the way it was, with cars going across too. 

Prince St Bridge surveying
With Bristol City Council now sending out regular May 2016 local, mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner election information and updates local Green Party Coordinators and Convenors (such as myself in Bristol South) have: organised the delivery of a Green newspaper to many thousands of households; are looking at campaigning schedules; are discussing text and images for 'we called today' cards; planning further collection of local views and priorities via surveys; and are encouraging as many members as possible to get actively involved.  

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Six [political] things you might not know about me

I've just been selected as one of the Green candidates for the target seat of Bedminster (along with my fellow Green Will Quick). Its a target for us because we were very, very close to winning last year (the pie chart from May 2015 shows we are clearly Labour's main challengers and are only a few percent from victory). 

This is very exciting for me as a long-time Green with a well developed view on Bristol neighbourhood priorities, a clear vision for the city - and a lot of experience to offer. 

Here are six things you might not know about me which tell you something about me and my political story:   

1. To my knowledge I was the very first member of the Green Party in the Bristol South constituency (I was probably the first member south of the river too) in 1981 when I was 19 yrs old. Membership and support in Bristol South, where I was born, brought up and still live, is now several hundred times greater - and the city now has 14 councillors (rapidly up from 1 in 2006; and 6 in 2014) . Brilliant!

2. When I was training to become a science teacher in 1985/6 at the University of Bristol, Don Foster, then the councillor for Cabot ward on Avon County Council and leader of the SDP-Liberal Alliance council group, was one of my tutors (a very good one, with a great sense of humour). Whatever happened to him!?  [Lib-Dem MP for Bath who retired in 2015, was Lib-Dem Chief Whip - and Comptroller of the Household, an ancient position in the English Royal Household which apparently includes acting as an usher at Royal Garden Parties!]      

3. I’ve been a local election candidate many times and in a number of wards over a 30+ yr period. I was the Greens general election candidate for Bristol South in 1987 when Dawn Primarolo was controversially selected by Labour (who de-selected sitting Labour MP Michael Cocks). Whatever happened to her!? [Minister of State in several roles; was Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons; now Dame Dawn…retired as an MP in 2015 and is now in the House of Lords].

4. Talking of people who’ve achieved, but little that's politically radical…In the late 1980’s/early 1990s I spoke for the Greens at public meetings where a certain George Ferguson represented the Liberals and John Bercow represented the Conservatives (and was then a very strong Thatcherite). Whatever happened to them!? [First Elected Mayor of Bristol, seeking re-election in May 2016; and Speaker of the House of Commons respectively]

5. Whilst a science teacher at Pen Park School in Southmead during the 1990s one of my classes was visited (unplanned!) by then Conservative Secretary of State for Education John Patten MP. He watched me from the back of my lab teaching Big Bang Theory, the expanding universe and red shift, including a highly technical demonstration :) involving popping balloons filled with dried peas. Whatever happened to him!? [He was made a life peer with a seat in the House of Lords, Baron Patten]

6. I’m most proud of sharing a platform in 2000 (speaking against the UK adopting the Euro) with truly radical political achiever Caroline Lucas, early in her career as an MEP. [Caroline was an MEP for over ten years and became the Greens first leader and its first MP in 2010 (re-elected in 2015)]

Having contested many local elections from 1983 onwards in the south and east of Bristol, as well as contesting general elections in Bristol South in 1987 and 2001 and Bristol East in 2010, I've been a glutton for electoral punishment :) Being the Green candidate for the target seat of Bedminster in May 2016 however both Will Quick and I have a very good chance of winning  - please vote for me and for Will if you live in the ward!!