Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ballot Paper shockers – UKIPWars in Bris, while Stockwood's guaranteed two non-resident councillors

Instead of standing in the council election for Stockwood (of which more below) I'm the Green Party candidate in Brislington East this time round. It looks like being a colourful election, because there's another of those bizarre UKIP 'misunderstandings'.

One Phil Collins has been busy putting his 'independent' leaflet out, complete with the union flag, explaining that he's a UKIP member and intends to form a UKIP branch in the ward. But he's not just up against the usual electoral suspects, including me and the sitting councillor Mike Wollacott. There's also an 'official' UKIP candidate, John Langley, competing with him for whatever anti-European, anti immigrant votes the ward can muster.

The clash might be partly explained by this news item from last year. Collins used to be UKIP's branch chairman, but like so many of their spokesmen he was embarrassingly candid with his anti-immigrant opinions, so they dropped him. Or did they? A footnote to the Post story, added in an unusually sober style by regular 'Post' commenter/ranter UKIPBristol, said the ban had been withdrawn by the local UKIP branch.

You have to wonder whether they've managed to sort it out over the last year. Looks like they've not.

In Stockwood, May's ballot paper is looking remarkably different, with new faces – including Issica Baron for the Greens – filling the list. Except, that is, for long-time Tory councillor David Morris, who – much to many people's suprise – has decided to run for another term in spite of poor health. If David should be re-elected, we'll continue, as we have done for ten years and more, to have a couple of councillors who (presumably) quietly get on with whatever ward casework is required, but otherwise don't keep us informed, refuse to expose themselves to public debate, and who unfailingly vote with the Tory group on the council. You get what you vote for.  Or what you fail to vote against

One reason I've abandoned another stab at the Stockwood seat is that history shows I may well fail yet again. In itself that would be bearable - but by standing down I won't have to worry that the elected local councillors won't in future find cause to hamper and delay my every attempt to get improvements in the ward, in case I should turn it to electoral advantage. Such is the tribalism of party politics.

I hope that if elected in Bris E , I wouldn't fall into the same trap. But it's a big factor in taking my name off the Stockwood ballot paper. And I'm confident I could represent Brislington East every bit as well as Stockwood.


Interested said...

Pete - I'm genuinely sorry that you weren't elected. Not because I believe in all the policies of the Green Party - far from it - but because you take such an active interest in your area.

It was a pity that you weren't standing for Stockwood but I know you gave your reasons. No doubt the result would have been the same because Stockwood seems pretty solid Conservative in local elections.

I have to say that David and Jay have always responded positively when my wife or I have raised local issues as did Labour's George Easton when he was a Stockwood councillor many years ago.

You did point out in your headline that neither David nor Jay live in the ward but neither would you had you been elected for Brislington unless you intended to move house.

I support no political party and I've long believed that local authority politics should not involve political parties. Everyone should be independent and form groupings for a particular issue which probably would not be the same groupings for other issues. At least they would not be subject to party whip or dogma.

Stockwood Pete said...

Thanks for that very thoughtful comment, Interested.

I confess that when I saw that David Morris was standing again in spite of poor health (and especially when I saw the specious claims in his election leaflet!), I did wish I'd stood in Stockwood – it came home to me that I've actually achieved more (and as a councillor could achieve far more) for the ward.

Of course, whether the electorate would have responded is another matter!

Of course you're right to say that in the very unlikely event that I'd been elected in Bris, I'd have been a non-resident councillor. I think the difference is that for Stockwood voters, a resident councillor was never an option; at least the choice was there in Bris. I'm guessing that the Tories couldn't find a new local candidate here, all the parties must be struggling to find serious candidates especially now that the Mayoral system has substantially reduced the role and influence of elected councillors.

I share your doubts about the role of parties in local politics, though in some places, especially where there's a committee system, the awful party tribalism that we still see in Bristol has been largely overcome and there's a more co-operative approach. However, I do see the party label as a guide to voters about the approach, priorities, and values of each candidate. Fortunately in the Green Party the label doesn't bring an obligation to vote as instructed, though I agree there'd be pressure not to break ranks.