Bristol West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9752 (15.2%)
Labour: 22900 (35.7%)
Lib Dem: 12103 (18.8%)
Green: 17227 (26.8%)
UKIP: 1940 (3%)
Others: 296 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 5673 (8.8%)

Category: Marginal Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Bristol, Clifton.

Profile: Bristol West is focused upon the centre of Bristol, covering the city centre itself, the suburb of Clifton to the west and some of the inner city areas to the east of the city centre. It includes what were traditionally some of the more elegant and middle class areas of Bristol, with the large Victorian and Edwardian terraces of Clifton (now largely been broken up into flats), affluent leafy suburbs like Cotham, and some more deprived inner city areas like Easton and St Pauls which have suffered from drug and gang violence. It is very much the student seat in Bristol with around a quarter of the working-age population in full-time education. It is also the most ethnically diverse of the Bristol seats with a significant Afro-carribean community in the inner city wards.

Politics: Traditionally this was the Conservative seat in Bristol, containing its most middle-class areas. It was held by the party continuously for a century and was represented by a series of Conservative cabinet ministers including Michael Hicks-Beach, Oliver Stanley, Walter Monckton and William Waldegrave. A combination of boundary changes, a growing student population and the Tories woes in the 1990s (which saw them lose the previously safe seat to Labour) have seen the Conservatives replaced and eclipsed by the Liberal Democrats, who held the seat between 2005 and 2010. Following the Liberal Democrats own collapse, the seat has become a target for the Green party.

Current MP
THANGAM DEBBONAIRE (Labour) Educated at Chethams School of Music and St Johns City College of Technology. Former research manager. First elected as MP for Bristol West in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 10169 (18%)
Lab: 15227 (28%)
LDem: 26593 (48%)
GRN: 2090 (4%)
Oth: 1268 (2%)
MAJ: 11366 (21%)
Con: 15429 (27%)
Lab: 16859 (29%)
LDem: 21987 (38%)
GRN: 2163 (4%)
Oth: 958 (2%)
MAJ: 5128 (9%)
Con: 16040 (29%)
Lab: 20505 (37%)
LDem: 16079 (29%)
GRN: 1961 (4%)
Oth: 1080 (2%)
MAJ: 4426 (8%)
Con: 20575 (33%)
Lab: 22068 (35%)
LDem: 17551 (28%)
Oth: 1143 (2%)
MAJ: 1493 (2%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CLAIRE HISCOTT (Conservative) Pharmacist. Bristol councillor since 2013.
THANGAM DEBBONAIRE (Labour) Educated at Chethams School of Music and St Johns City College of Technology. Research manager.
STEPHEN WILLIAMS (Liberal Democrat) Born 1966, Mountain Ash. Educated at Mountain Ash Comprehensive and Bristol University. Chartered tax advisor. Bristol councillor 1993-1999.Contested Bristol South 1997, Bristol West 2001. MP for Bristol West 2005 to 2015.
DARREN HALL (Green) Educated at Swansea university. Project manager and former civil servant.
DAWN PARRY (Independent) Educated at Treorchy Comprehensive School. North Somerset councillor 2007-2011. Contested Newport East 2010 for the Conservatives.
Comments - 903 Responses on “Bristol West”
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  1. The Conservatives gaind Clifton (for the first time since 1992).
    Nearly took Clifton East aswell.

    Also 68% C share in Stoke Bishop, in Bristol NW, albeit with no UKIP candidate.

    A bad Lib Dem performance in Bristol has helped the Tories aswell as Labour it seems.

    Perhaps this is also some evidence of what Richard put on I think the Boston thread earlier today, when he referred to 3 voting blocks of the electorate.

    Perhaps high status areas like this are finally moving towards the Tories rather than the Lib Dems (even though the Tories have many problems in other types of area).

    Turnout in these elections nationally is low – I had thought the fine weather may have brought more people out.
    So perhaps the votes have got a bit distorted.

  2. Con hold Avonmouth aswell.
    Keep having to check I’ve got the right year – this IS 2013!
    Astonishingly good result for them.

  3. “Perhaps this is also some evidence of what Richard put on I think the Boston thread earlier today, when he referred to 3 voting blocks of the electorate.”

    Thanks Joe.

    Top be honest I thought my idea would have sparked more debate here and elsewhere.

    You will be pleased to note that if I’m right the LibDems are bolloxed in the medium term.

    Its been a very weird election in which all three traditional parties have learnt more to worry about than they expected.

  4. I was surprised with how well the Conservatives did in Bristol this year. Taking Clifton after being absent there for years was probably their best result in the urban areas up for election this year.

    Labour did make good progress in Bristol but mainly in the eastern half of the city. The results suggest a substantial swing to Labour in Bristol East come 2015. If the wards in Bristol South were up this year, they would probably have managed an even bigger swing in that part of the city. They may have a decent chance of winning overall control of the council in 2014.

  5. If we assume Bristol West is in reality Bristol Central how many other city centre constituencies do the Conservatives have councillors?

    London and Edinburgh, two big financial centres.

    Anywhere else?

    Didn’t they have some in Cardiff Central in 2008?

  6. Possibly yes.

    Perhaps the Conservatives will be the second party again in Bristol Council in 2014
    although with little prospect of overall control for some years at best
    they may have more influence in a hung Council.

  7. Local election result:

    LD: 6,316 (26.9%)
    Lab: 6,232 (26.5%)
    Green: 5,466 (23.2%)
    Con: 2,782 (11.8%)
    UKIP: 695 (3.0%)
    Others: 2,021 (8.6%)

    Changes since GE2010:

    LD: -21.2%
    Lab: -1.0%
    Green: +19.5%
    Con: -6.5%
    UKIP: +1.8%
    Others: +7.5%

    Swing, LD to Lab: 10.1%

  8. I think if the LDs could hold onto a slim lead this year they ought to be able to hold the seat in a general election.

    Maybe others have a different view?

  9. It is a fragmented result. Could be very close. Once the lib dems lose, the tory vote will rise probably

  10. Joe, the Tory vote will not rise especially in Bristol. Lib Dem exodus to Labour here, Stephen Williams did not vote against the tuition fees rise. A very strong local candidate in Thangam Debonnaire so it would be a Labour with a slim majority. Julian Huppert has more of a chance of holding his seat than Stephen Williams holding this seat, I can assure you of that.

  11. I don’t require assurances, and that’s a very odd conclusion to reach seeing that Labour has consistently outpolled the LDs in local elections since 2010 in Cambridge, but hasn’t done so here. Perhaps Bob’s views are wishful thinking because he prefers the Labour candidate here to that in Cambridge. But the swing needed in the latter is smaller, and the electorate is of a type more suited to Labour, except in the hotspot of St Lawrence ward. Although Labour will fancy its chances of getting some of the Green vote in this constituency, the LDs will be hopeful that some of those who voted Conservative in Clifton will vote tactically for them to keep Labour out. This seat is not impossible but it’s a hard one to win.

  12. I would have thought it would be close one way or the other here. Definatley err on the side of LD hold though.

  13. How much of the Lib Dem vote is left-wing i.e. could go directly to the Greens, and how much is potential Labour votes/tactical voting?

  14. Perhaps Bob’s views are wishful thinking

    you could probably stop there

  15. I think Barnaby’s summary is spot on.

    If the lib dems can get out ‘their’ vote in clifton – much of which did go to the tories in the local elections it seems – they should be fairly confident of hanging on here

  16. Its going to be very close – its interesting that neither Labour nor the LD’s could persuade their most obviously ‘good’ wards to support them this year, so its all to play for.

    I think the Labour candidate is interesting and far from the ‘usual’ candidate for a political party – she seems to have a very good personal rapport with the Greens locally

  17. So could anyone estimate vote share?

  18. Maybe Psychic Sally or Mystic Meg.

  19. Oh no, not you again. What predictions would you make Meg?

  20. Bob appears not to really know these seats in much detail – he’s a bit like a Lib Dem activist who goes to every council by-election in the country
    blanketing the same stuff about tactical voting/unwind tactical voting, great local candidate etc.

    I think my predictions here are sensible and with some local knowledge.

  21. Green 59
    Lab 32
    Cons 4
    Ukip 3
    LD 1

    I don’t know Bristol, don’t know the local issues and don’t know what will happen between now and the General election, so based on such a level of ignorance, the above prediction seems entirely rational.

  22. I wish Robberbutton 😉

  23. I don’t have local knowledge I admit, but I would say something like:

    LD – 41
    Lab – 34
    Con – 15
    Grn – 6
    UKIP – 4

    Bob not surprisingly supports the Labour candidate as she is BAME, like most of Bob’s favourites.

  24. is psychic sally sally bercow lol

  25. Thats moronic Sally.

  26. LD 35
    LAB 33
    CON 21
    GRN 9
    UKIP 2

  27. Again, I don’t know why you routinely forecast a doubled Green vote. The rest of the prediction isn’t a million miles off though.

  28. Overall on Bristol Council, the Greens now control Ashley, took another seat off the LDs in Bishopston (a total of 4 seats on the council) with almost 15% of the overall vote and over 20% in the various LD seats. Plus, the Greens were very close (within 5%) to taking Easton as well. So a few percentage point increases isn’t exactly over-optimistic, surely?

  29. The Greens didn’t have a particularly good election in 2010 outside the obvious
    – not sure why – perhaps the LD upturn from the debates did provide the catch all.

    Some increase is credible – in fact I’d like to see the Lib Dems totally disappear – have two strong large parties – but a few fringe pressure groups such as UKIP and Greens.

    But there’s not a a lot of evidence for “a few points” more everywhere – remember 4 or 5 points in an election between the major parties is quite a lot.

  30. The seats I have been looking at are more favourable to the Greens- on another Bristol seat I put them up from 1 to 3%, so no I won’t be doing this in every seat 😉

  31. Bristol is genersally an area where Greens could do better yes. More than average rise. Although the Tories look like they are improving in the more affluent areas, and in avonmouth, clifton was a fairly isolated success in this seat. I think it’ll end up as a labour seat with a tory rump like some in london, but the libs may survive one more term unfortunately.

  32. Here’s one for you, windsofchange. While there may be great potential for the Greens to take disaffected Lib Dem votes in 2015, do you think they actually will with a leader as anonymous as Natalie Bennett?

  33. Well, my prediction for 2015 here

    LD 38
    Lab 34
    Con 16
    Green 8
    Others 4

    I think the Tory vote is rock solid in Clifton and can’t be squeezed

    I am going to a scientific conference in Bristol next year.

  34. From first hand knowledge I feel the overall result will depend on the green vote in places such as Ashley, Easton and Bishopston and how much of it will swing to Labour in the general election. Williams has made himself unpopular with the students having abstained on the tuition fee vote and of course the Lib Dems in general will suffer in student seats such as this one.

    Having said this a 11,000 majority isnt neccessarily easy to overturn and the Lib Dems still have a reasonable core vote in Redland, Cotham, Cabot and probably Clifton (come general election time). My fear is that some Conservatives in Clifton will tactically vote Williams in order to keep Labour out. Highly socially and economically diverse constituency from Liberal intelligensia guardian reading areas around the university to statisically the most deprived ward in South West England Lawrence Hill and of course including St Pauls within Ashley ward.

    In many senses a three way marginal will be interesting to see how much work the greens will put in come general election time. We have two wards in the constituency Redland and Bishopston up in May which we are working very very hard in and have been for months. The results there will be very interesting in relation to the Greens in Bishopston and whether the LIb Dems can retain Redland with a New candidate replacing the experienced Sylvia Townsend.

    I do not want to make a prediction at this stage but we have a fantastic local candidate in Thangam Debbonaire and will work extremely hard and its certainly doable. The Three major Factors in my opinion are 1. Whether we can get our core vote in Easton and Lawrence Hill out in sufficent numbers. 2. What way the Greens will vote in Bishopston and Ashley come 2015 and whether we can gain a sufficent number of these socially liberal greens/ex lib dems back. 3. How much tactical voting will take place from tories in what is without doubt in parts a very affluent constituency.

    Quite amazing how this was a safe Tory seat for so many years although I do achknowledge the boundaries where considerably different with Westbury on Trym and Stoke Bishop then being in the constituency. In comparision to similar student seats such as Manchester Withington and Norwich South we have a challenging (but doable) task very similar to Leeds North West.

  35. Didn’t the Lib Dems manage to do well in the Bristol West wards at this year’s local elections? I mean Labour are now the largest party on the council but it’s NOC.

  36. The Lib Dems won in single figures by 92 votes I think (not sure if prescisely correct) they lost Ashley and Bishopston to the Greens, Easton to Labour and Clifton to the tories. If you compare this to their general election majority and previous local election results Steven Williams should not be feeling overjoyed by them whatsoever. Its also worth taking into account that not many students vote in local elections (it was no fun whatsoever trying to persuade my friends to vote last year) whilst they will in the general and im so now sure they’ll be coming out in heavy numbers for Steven Williams (unlike the last election).

  37. *According to the figures further up the page it was 84 votes.

  38. When poor William Waldegrave lost here, he must have never imagined the Tories would fall back to the position they now find themselves here?

    Of course also, he was unlucky to lose to Labour who weren’t technically his main challengers- Charles Boney of the Lib Dems had really hoped to take the seat in 1997 and didn’t- It was carried along by Labour after tactical support had gone their way and they were the main beneficiaries of the anti-Tory vote.

  39. Their fall back has had quite a bit to do with boundary changes. None of the Tories’ strongest wards in Bristol is now in this constituency; this wasn’t yet the case in 1997.

  40. Indeed of course losing Stoke Bishop and Westbury on Trym now means that they have very little chance here and will most probably concentrate all resources on helping Charlotte Leslie in North West and of course have Skidmore and Rees Mogg defending marginals nearby.

    Because of this I fear the Lib Dems will benefit who have been the main beneficiaries of the anti Labour vote in the past decade (the Iraq war and top-up fees went down worse in this seat than the average). Despite this I give Labour a very good chance but theres no denying that it won’t be easy in such a swing seat. I get the impression that many people here are socially left wing but not neccessarily having tribal loyalty to the Labour Party (unlike perhaps Bristol South). Very middle class public sector guardian reading seat in many parts not unlike Sheffield Hallam but containing within its boundaries some highly deprived areas containing both the richest 10% in society and the poorest 10%. Very interesting and diverse seat to campaign in and whilst challenging can be won.

  41. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened here if the tories narrowly held on in 1997 – they weren’t far from doing so.

  42. This seat could be very interesting in the future. I think that in 2020 this seat could feasibly provide a Green MP if the Lib Dems are to lose it next year. It has to be one of the few seats that they will be pouring resources into in 2015. Last time I checked the Green strategy for 2015 is to identify target seats that could be won in 2020 or 2025 and build up a presence in them at both local and Westminster levels. I see certain parallels between here and Norwich South and expect a similar result here in 2015 to the Norwich South result in 2010, but with Labour about 5% higher at the expense of the Lib Dems.

    For 2015:

    LAB: 34%
    LD: 31%
    GRN: 16%
    CON: 12%
    UKIP: 6%
    TUSC: 1%

  43. The sizeable black vote in this seat should benefit Labour to an extent. Not sure how the large student vote will go, so I guess it depends on how popular Stephen Williams is with them. Prediction wise I think Labour will enjoy a swing towards them and reduce the Lib Dem majority, but I think the vote Stephen Williams built up here last time is too large to knock down in what’s very unlikely to be a landslide election. Then Greens might be able to take some votes off the Lib Dems in a couple of wards.

    Locally, Labour’s best wards in Bristol West are Easton and Lawrence Hill while the Lib Dems mostly dominate, although there’s an odd Tory councillor (their stronger wards were moved to Bristol NW) and the Greens have more recently enjoyed success in Ashley and Bishopston.

  44. I really think that the above prediction is highly unlikely. I’ve told Greens till I’m red (not blue) in the face that they always do far worse in general than in local elections, but they tend not to listen. I cannot see for one moment the Greens beating the Conservatives. Instead, most who voted for Green local councillors will vote Labour, or in certain cases give Williams a personal vote.

  45. I’m rather intrigued by the Labour PPC’s surname. Her first name suggests that she has either Sri Lankan Tamil or South Indian roots (mostly likely Tamil Nadu, but Thangam can also be a female name in Kerala).

    Don’t know what nationality Debbonaire is common in. I guess she either married someone of that name and took it, or she’s mixed race.

  46. The language of Kerala (Malayalam, which was my wife’s first language – nowadays her English is better) is closely related to the Tamil language. Many of the names are similar too. As far as I know this candidate is a Tamil.

  47. 111’s prediction was good for a laugh.

    I find it hard to believe that the Lib Dems will lose here, though Labour might run them close.

  48. I disagree HH. To quote AW:

    “It is very much the student seat in Bristol, with around a quarter of the working-age population in full-time education.”

    I know it’s not necessarily the same kind of seat, but in Sheffield Central (also incredibly student-heavy) the Lib Dems collapsed from 41% at the 2010 GE to 17% in the 2012 locals (third place behind the Greens).

    Now this seat has a Lib Dem incumbent, it’s wealthier etc. But anyway, let’s let council election results speak for themselves:

    Lab: 6232, 26.5%
    Lib: 6316, 26.9%
    Grn: 5466, 23.2%
    Con: 2782, 11.8%
    TUSC: 211, 0.9%
    IFB: 1782, 7.6%
    UKIP: 695, 3.0%
    Birthday: 28, 0.1%

    Total Votes: 23512

    On paper, this looks like it’s all to play for. But realistically, the odds of the Greens getting anywhere near 23% here are astronomically. 5/6% looks more likely, and while I don’t know those voters personally I’d say it’s probably they’ll largely turn from Green to red come the election.

  49. It’s very possible that there are people whose vote varies depending on if they’re voting nationally or locally. Tends to be less tribal voters, or even those who think certain paries are better suited to representing them at one level but not another.

    The Greens have built up pockets of support in Stroud, Lancaster and Solihull boroughs (to give just a few examples). For all we now those might be Labour voters who reckon their party is not useful to them in local government but would still vote for them at the general election in order to have a Labour MP. In Solihull they have councillors in one of the more deprived urban areas, think it’s Chelmsley Wood. That isn’t demographically Green territory at all, but local factors might have turned voters away from Labour in more recent times. But come general election I am sure Labour will see an increase of votes there.

    In Bristol West I predict that they’ll hold their deposit and probably poll in the low thousands. That would most likely come from voters who are genuinely supportive of the Greens, as well as some Lib Dem defectors.

  50. @Neil @Barnaby Marder

    I’m pretty sure I read that her family roots are in South India and Tamil Nadu (Chennai).

    “Thangam” in Tamil means “Pearl”. The “Debonnaire” part I’m not so sure but if it is her maiden name, then would assume her parents are Indian Christians.

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