West of England Election 2021

Super Thursday: Marvin’s magic conjures Labour’s second term in Bristol 

As a 1/8 odds-on favourite with national bookmakers, there was unlikely to ever be a ‘how did they do that?’ moment for any of the challengers to Mayor Marvin Rees in 2021. Comfortable Labour majorities in the four Bristol parliamentary constituencies and the absence of former mayor George Ferguson on the ballot paper meant a routine performance would probably see Marvin Rees home.

And so it proved, with a convincing 13-point victory after second preference votes. But the surprise of the night was the Green Party. Compared to 2016, an increased vote share of 19 points, over 26,000 extra votes, and a place in the final run-off with Labour were more than Green candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven could have privately hoped for.

Count observers witnessed a Green surge in Bristol West wards as inner-city communities simply switched sides with possible consequences for Labour’s councillor numbers. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, whose key policy was abolishing the mayoral position they were standing for, had cause for some optimism too. Tory Alistair Watson and Lib-Dem Caroline Gooch appeared to absorb some of George Ferguson’s 2016 first preference vote to achieve their party’s best results for Bristol Mayor.

So, come May 2024, should Labour be concerned with the modest decline in their vote? Much depends on the de facto Green opposition extending their appeal to voters outside a two-mile radius of the city centre. Thirty years since being founded, the Green vote has barely flickered in Bristol’s suburbs. And that situation must change to avoid being a perennial supporting act in future mayoral races.

Download our full election guide in full above and read our analysis of the West of England Combined Authority Election.

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