Bristol South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12377 (24.3%)
Labour: 19505 (38.4%)
Lib Dem: 4416 (8.7%)
Green: 5861 (11.5%)
UKIP: 8381 (16.5%)
TUSC: 302 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 7128 (14%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: South West, Avon. Part of the Bristol council area.

Main population centres: Bristol.

Profile: This is a traditional white working class seat, stretching from the old former industrial areas of Bristol just south of the city centre like Bedminster, down to the more modern post-war council houses estates on the city`s southern border where there remains a high proportion of social housing.

Politics: Bristol South has a long history as a solid Labour seat, held by the party since 1935. The closest it came to falling was in 1987 in the aftermath of a Michael Cocks deselection. In the 1983 election Bristol South-East has been abolished and Cocks, the Labour Chief Whip, defeated Tony Benn for the nomination for Bristol South. While Benn himself fought and lost the Bristol East seat and later resurfaced as MP for Chesterfield, Benn`s local sympathisers later deselected Cocks and replaced him with Benn`s former constituency secretary Dawn Primarolo. Cocks went to the Lords, where he would become a long standing critic of the Bennite left.

Current MP
KARIN SMYTH (Labour) Born London. Educated at University of East Anglia. Former NHS manager. First elected as MP for Bristol South in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 11086 (23%)
Lab: 18600 (38%)
LDem: 13866 (29%)
BNP: 1739 (4%)
Oth: 3086 (6%)
MAJ: 4734 (10%)
Con: 8466 (20%)
Lab: 20778 (49%)
LDem: 9636 (23%)
GRN: 2127 (5%)
Oth: 1321 (3%)
MAJ: 11142 (26%)
Con: 9118 (22%)
Lab: 23299 (57%)
LDem: 6078 (15%)
GRN: 1233 (3%)
Oth: 1242 (3%)
MAJ: 14181 (35%)
Con: 10562 (21%)
Lab: 29890 (60%)
LDem: 6691 (13%)
Oth: 1230 (2%)
MAJ: 19328 (39%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
ISOBEL GRANT (Conservative) Born Kew. Educated at Manchester University. Civil engineer. Ealing councillor 2010-2014.
KARIN SMYTH (Labour) Born London. Educated at University of East Anglia. NHS manager.
MARK WRIGHT (Liberal Democrat) Software engineer. Bristol councillor. Contested Bristol South 2010.
STEVE WOOD (UKIP) Born Bristol. Educated at Hartcliffe Comprehensive. Businessman.
TONY DYER (Green) Born Hartcliffe.
Comments - 172 Responses on “Bristol South”
  1. I’m not suggesting it is unreasonable or racist, just not obviously very relevant

  2. ‘Its not really that suprising given that Jews as a whole have moved relentlessly to the right decade after decade’


    Which is why you now get what just decades ago would be unthinkable – alliances of far-right politicians – like Gert Wilders – and Jewish Zionists, whose hatred of Islam gives them common cause

    Even Anders Brevik [] who was to all intents and purposes a white supremicist, hailed Zionism whenm just years ago people like him held Zionists in the same regard as Marxists, pacifist and blacks

    Times they are changing

  3. I think part of it is that Labour are seen as the party of muslims, and as such the tory party becomes the instinctive jewish party.

    Many people do think on those sort of terms sadly.

  4. ‘I think part of it is that Labour are seen as the party of muslims’

    I think that’s almost certainly right, although the links between far right organisations in both Western Europe and Israel is interesting too when you look at the history

  5. Tim- I’m puzzled about why you listed Peter Hitchens with people like David Aaronovitch. Hitchens cannot stand neoconservatives and would be horrified to be associated with them.

  6. David Aaronovitch (he was Dave in his Communist Party days) seems indeed more Blairite Labour than Tory. Peter Hitchens has apparently gone on record as saying that it is necessary for this government to be defeated, even though he viscerally hates everything Labour stands for.
    It is true that British Jews are more conservative than half a century ago, but I don’t think there’s been much change since the 80s in real terms. I more than make up for any drift to the right, of course. 🙂

  7. ‘I’m puzzled about why you listed Peter Hitchens with people like David Aaronovitch. Hitchens cannot stand neoconservatives and would be horrified to be associated with them.’

    Of course he would but Hitchens has made the longest journey of them all from a left-wing Communist to a right-wing reactionary, so naturally would top any list of journalists who have moved from the Left to the Right

    As Barnaby says, Aaronovitch is New Labour but he’s still shifted significantly from the Communist he used to be, and one suspects this shift has everything to do with the money he now has in his pocket, than any ideologocal shift

  8. Peter Hitchens wishes to see the establishment of what he calls a pro-British movement which is neither bigoted nor political correct, and he views the Conservative Party as currently constituted as a major obstacle to that, but he doesn’t think UKIP is the right party to do it.

  9. Once you control for wealth, Jews actually skew distinctly to the left

  10. I would caution Tim against assuming that the Community Party of Great Britain – i.e. the best-known & largest of what were Britain’s main so-called Communist parties – was all that left-wing. It was totally reformist, and I’d say that it was clearly to the right of Tony Benn, to name Labour’s leading left-wing figure. Its days as a genuinely left-wing party were in the distant past, and it moved gently to the right as its geriatric membership aged & moved to the right. After all, Sue Slipman was able to go straight from the CPGB to the SDP, and she wasn’t the only one to do so either. A transition from the CPGB to Blairism is a move to the Right, but a fairly gentle one. Latterly some of you may not realise that the CPGB was no longer linked to the Morning Star, which deviates from the policies of the party in a more left-wing direction. Probably the CPGB still exists in some form – last I heard it was called the Democratic Left – but, frankly, who cares any more. It’s a total irrelevance.

  11. whoops I’ve clearly typed the word “community” too many times of late. Obviously I meant “Communist” in line one.

  12. 54 percent of religious Jews vote tory. That is really pretty strong. Its actually higher than religious Protestants (50).

    Secular jews are very weak for the tory party (22) compared to secular protestants (30).

  13. Why are you talking in the prsent tense when that report is nearly 20 years old?

  14. I was interested to see that only 26% of secular Jews celebrate Christmas as a holiday (rather than religious event). Might have thought that would be somewhat higher.

    Also interesting was the fact that 24% of Jews earn more than £40K, compared to only 3% of the population at large. I didn’t realise Jews were quite that wealthy. (Perhaps thats as a result of growing up quite near a large, very poor Jewish community)

  15. Sorry – still interesting though!

  16. The idea that only 3% of the population earns more than £40k is horseshit. It will be more like 30%. That report must date from the 1980s and therefore is of little relevance today.

  17. 1996.

  18. “Probably the CPGB still exists in some form – last I heard it was called the Democratic Left – but, frankly, who cares any more. It’s a total irrelevance.”

    Actually its ultimate successor organisation is Unlock Democracy. Democratic Left became the New Politics Network, who eventually merged with Charter 88 to become Unlock Democracy.

  19. Well, this report is from April 2010 and gives 31% of Jews as supporting Labour versus 30% for the Tories, and it doesn’t control for wealth. Once you factor that in you’d find that Jews tend to the left compared to those of equal wealth.

  20. Notable that Jewish support for labour from the young is no higher than for the older age groups.

  21. Well, amongst non-Jews, Tory support is much higher in the older age groups, so in a way perhaps it is significant.

    I suspect a lot of this is down to geography as much as anything else.

  22. That’s interesting – that means that the Tories were only 1% ahead of Labour amongst Jews (presumably including totally secular ones like me) when they were 7.5% ahead in the country as a whole. Of course it may not be that scientific compared with a national poll of the whole population. That would suggest that given the national swing Jews are probably somewhat more Labour than Conservative at present. That certainly wasn’t the case in, for example, 1992 when the Tories certainly led by much more than 1% amongst Jews. It is hard to believe that in real terms Jews vote Labour more today than in, for example, 1992 & it would be most interesting to see a further scientifically conducted poll at some point. Mind you, if one thinks about 2 of the most Jewish constituencies, Bury S & Hendon, the specific Labour candidates in that constituency are quite popular among Jewish voters for various reasons, more so than the party as a whole is, and maybe this poll partly reflects this. Not many of the seats with the largest Jewish population, after all, are safe Tory seats (though Hertsmere is a major exception to that observation).

  23. Joe R – in my experience older Jews are more likely still to identify with Labour. Certainly in my family, very few if any of my great-uncles or -aunts, and none of my grandparents, voted Conservative, whereas in the generation above me & my own generation I have quite numerous family members who vote Conservative. Not to mention my wonderful son who has joined the Conservative Party!

  24. Barnaby – from that link, the question it asked was more like general party idenfication than voting intention (something they specifically point out!), so you can’t really compare to the 2010 vote. Labour still had a lead in party identification in 2010, despite being behind in the vote.

  25. Barnaby

    Do you think your son has joined the Tories just to annoy you?

  26. I reckon Barnaby would be more annoyed if his son joined the Lib Dems.

  27. H.Hemmelig – no. He has libertarian views & is a sort of right-wing infiltrator into the Tory party, just as some would say that I am some sort of left-wing deviant in the Labour Party. He has genuine convictions & would not seek to embarrass me personally. Indeed, he was a Labour candidate in the 2010 local elections when aged 18, underwent a political conversion during the election, but had the discretion not to announce it & thus make his erstwhile party look stupid, for which I remain grateful.
    Joe – you are absolutely correct. At least the Conservatives have convictions & ideology.

  28. Quite a few Lib Dems have ‘convictions’ of some sort…

  29. That seems to be a subtle variation on an old Derek & Clive sketch!

  30. You got it…offences against Anna Neagle

  31. It is quite significant that UKIP were even able to take seats in Bristol.

  32. Congratulations to Dawn Primarolo, who is to be honoured with a Damehood.

  33. After these honours have been announced, I am now acquainted for a number of years with a Knight & a Dame. The Dame is Julie Mellor who is the Parliamentary Ombudsman. A Blue Peter badge goes to whoever can correctly identify the new knight with whom I am acquainted.

  34. Derek Myers perhaps, Barnaby? I was thinking you might know him through your connections with London local government.

  35. No. Not even warm.

  36. András Schiff?

  37. Andy! You are a clever fellow. Yes indeed. I was extremely keen on Andras’s cousin in my teens (now sadly deceased) and have known him for only slightly less than 40 years. My family & I are still very friendly with his aunt, who has like my father joined the Labour Party since the last general election though she is over 80. I haven’t however seen Andras for a few years now, sadly. He was third in the Leeds Piano Competition (which was extremely strong that year – the runner-up, Mitsuko Uchida, was made a Dame a number of years ago) when I was going out with his cousin, in 1975.

  38. prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 37%
    con- 20%
    Lib- 19%
    UKIP- 17%
    Green- 5%
    BNP- 1%
    TUSC- 1%

    The Labour growth should be stunted and the tories set back by the rise of UKIP in this white working class seat. Meanwhile the greens’ vote increases and the liberal vote decreases as we just saw. I think TUSC will get on the right side of 0.5% as will the British National party. A real labour hold though, all else is statistical nonsense.

    But that really is what we’re into on this site isn’t it?

  39. I appreciate your predictions and you are right that this is one part of Bristol where UKIP could do quite well but I think those figures are way out.
    The LD performance in Bristol is a bit of an unknown quantity – they still have a local presence in Knowle.
    I’d predict lower UKIP, LD and Green shares.
    I may have under-estimated UKIP though with my prediction some time back.

  40. prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 42%
    con- 20%
    Lib- 18%
    UKIP- 13%
    Green- 6%
    TUSC- 1%

  41. Just noticed already done this one, and probably a much better guess first time round too. Owell.

  42. I actually gave you a considered reply. How much thought did you put into it then, with respect? I think there will be a large ld to lab swing here but not as great as in northern cities or parts of london.

  43. This must be one of the only seats in southern England – outside London – to have never elected a Tory MP since the war

  44. Good point Tim. In fact it’s the only one, full stop. Strangely though Bristol S voted Conservative in 1931, but Bristol E, which of course has been Conservative in the living memory of some of us (1983 & 1987) was a very rare Labour survival that year. Its MP was Stafford Cripps.

  45. That is a pretty remarkable fact. I wonder how long it’ll be the case. I mean in terms of remaining a Labour seat. Could it become a UKIP friendly territory in Bristol given the WWC vote?

  46. It is remarkable, and this seat was nearly lost to the Tories in 1987 as we’ll.

  47. ‘In fact it’s the only one, full stop’

    I thought msybe devonport in plymouth fits this criteria too, but that was tory in one form or another in the late 1950s and early 1960s

  48. “I thought maybe devonport in plymouth fits this criteria too, but that was tory in one form or another in the late 1950s and early 1960s”

    It was tory until 1974, when as a result of boundary changes which created 3 seats in Plymouth instead of 2, incorporating Plympton and Plymstock, which were taken into the city boundaries in the early 60s, into a seriously reconfigured Sutton. David Owen shifted from Sutton to Devonport, and I think Janet Fookes, or whoever the tory MP for Devonport was then, shifted from Devonport to the new Plymouth Drake, and they both won their new seats.

  49. Joan Vickers also stood in the new Devonport seat in February 1974 and was only very narrowly defeated.
    Janet Fookes (Drake) had previously represented Merton & Morden which was abolished.
    In 1951 Devonport was Labour held and Sutton was Tory but Joan Vickers gained Devonport from Michael Foot by 100 votes in 1955 and by 1959 it was the safer of the two seats for the Tories. 1966 was another photo finish – Plymouth seems to go in for them

  50. Fookes herself had the chance to stand in Merton & Morden because for some reason Humphrey Atkins changed constituency from there to Spelthorne – there were no boundary changes so was he afraid of losing Merton & Morden or something? Not everyone will know that David Owen represented the other side of Plymouth, representing Sutton from 1966 to 1974 when he moved to Devonport defeating Vickers. It was quite an achievement of Owen to hold on to Sutton in 1970 considering the national swing.
    Plymouth had 3 seats before 1950 too as it did between 1984 & 1997. All were won by Labour in 1945. Foot was almost a local, his family being strongly connected with E Cornwall, and remained a Plymouth Argyle fan for life; on his 90th birthday, as a Director of the club, he was registered AS A PLAYER & given a Foot football jersey with the number 90, making him the oldest registered player in professional football history, apparently.
    Not that relevant, for which I apologize, but hopefully of mild interest to some.

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