So the votes have been counted, and despite thousands of pounds spent on promoting the middle class vanity project ‘Independents for Bristol’ – the ‘party that’s not a party’ set up by a bunch of Mayor George Ferguson’s rich chums on the grounds that the City Council isn’t stuffed with enough self-regarding toffs or laptoperati – IfB only managed to win a single seat. And that was Kingsweston, won by the all-but-in-name Lib Dem Jason Budd!
Now that Labour is the biggest party in Shitty Hall with 28 councillors, George has been making overtures to them to get them inside his fast-sinking administration. Indeed, it is of note that instead of palling up with the single successful Indy Redpants candidate and offering Budd a place in his Cabinet, George has now turned his head to attracting in some Labour faces, having pointedly said:
I very much hope we can achieve a four-party cabinet, because I think it’s in Bristol’s interests and I also think it’s in the parties’ interests.
Seeing as he already has the Lib Dems, Tories and Green Party represented in his fake ‘rainbow coalition’ Cabinet of cuts-makers, it’s a rather harsh snub for the hard-working finance directors, self-facilitating media nodes and political anoraks who so tirelessly canvassed as proxies on his behalf.
The failure of the Indy Redpants to fire the imagination of Bristolians might have something to do with their insufferably middle class smugness, and their barely credible claims to be representing a change in city politics.
Cast your mind back ten years to the only-half-serious Bristolian Party – born of an earlier version of this very scandal sheet. It put up twelve candidates across Bristol, including a couple – for comedy value – in Clifton and Clifton East, on a ticket of “reclaiming our city back from the corporate developers”.
In the four wards contested by both the Bristolian Party in 2003 and IfB in 2013, the Bristolian candidate placed higher than the IfB in all but one (Clifton, unsurprisingly). The Bristolian candidate beat the IfB candidate in votes and vote share in two wards – trouncing IfB in both Ashley and Easton. In Lawrence Hill the Bristolian candidate polled just twelve votes fewer than IfB. And in all the jointly-contested wards, the Bristolian Party faced a higher proportion of voter turn-out than the IfB.
So what does that say about the ‘success’ of Fergo’s ‘independent’ outriders of the Indy Redpants, their ability to inspire voters, or their willingness to address issues on the doorstep?
That they were roundly outperformed by a bunch of chancers united by contempt for the well-heeled political classes in Bristol that the IfB so clearly seeks to represent?