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Bristol elects 3 Labour MPs out of 4 as Tories storm to surprise victory

****Three out of four Bristol constituencies voted in Labour MPs on Thursday, in a General Election hailed as an unexpectedly decisive defeat for the opposition party nationwide.

Labour gained the Bristol West seat, University of Bristol's main home constituency, by a surprisingly high margin on what was an otherwise disastrous night for the party.

Their candidate, Thangam Debbonaire, won 35.7 per cent of the vote, with the Green Party’s Darren Hall (26.8 per cent) pushing Liberal Democrat incumbent Stephen Williams into third place.

And Labour candidates Kerry McCarthy and Karin Smyth successfully held Bristol East and Bristol South respectively, each with an increased majority of several thousand votes over their Conservative challengers.

McCarthy told Epigram she was glad to be re-elected, but worried about Labour's dismal national performance:

'There are a lot of question marks about the next five years.'
'It's quite upsetting what's happened to some of my colleagues,' she added.

In Bristol North West, Conservative incumbent Charlotte Leslie was re-elected with 44 per cent of the vote, with Labour’s Darren Jones finishing second and UKIP’s Michael Frost third.

An election poll of just under 1000 Bristol students by Epigram had previously indicated 30 per cent of them planned to vote Labour, while 26 per cent favoured the Tories and 20 per cent supported the Greens.

Bristol West Conservative Candidate, Claire Hiscott, finished fourth, but told Epigram she had enjoyed her campaign and was happy with the Conservative performance nationally:

‘It’s fantastic, really brilliant yes, it’s a surprise for us all but it is marvellous news – common sense has prevailed.’
She also explained why she felt the opinion polls failed to foresee such a wide margin of victory for the Tories:

‘I think a lot of people don’t actually make up their minds until the day, and also exit polls are just so much more accurate than the opinion polls...the opinion polls are only a tiny snapshot.’

Green Party activists were disappointed that they had not quite managed their aim of turning Bristol West into their second parliamentary seat, instead having to settle for the retention of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.

Lucas, their only MP, was re-elected with an increased majority, and the Greens have gained votes across England.

In Bristol West, a 23% swing saw them move from fourth in 2010 to second.

The Greens' candidate there, Darren Hall, told Epigram he thought this election showed the Greens were ‘moving in the right direction’ and added the party had had positive feedback about their style of campaigning:

‘More and more people are liking the way we do politics, so if we keep on that positive stuff, not doing attacking politics, just answering questions, we stand out from the others. But that’s because that’s where our values are.
'It’s about getting stuff done, so yeah, as the world becomes a more tricky place, Green politics becomes more and more the type of politics people want.’


Stephen Williams and his supporters were clearly upset by the results, both nationally and locally.

Speaking after the declaration, Williams commented that ‘although the judgement today is incredibly harsh’, he thought that ‘it was the right thing to do for the Liberal Democrats to enter into government.’

Nick Clegg has since been forced to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats, as the party have gained just eight seats in this election - losing 49 since 2010.

In contrast, the declaration that Thangam Debbonaire had won the Bristol West seat was met by huge excitement from the large collection of Labour party activists present at the count.

Matty Bacon, Co-Chair of Bristol Labour Students, told Epigram:

‘I'm devastated at the national picture but very proud of Thangam and Bristol Labour Students for what we have achieved here.

Debbonaire spoke in her acceptance speech of her excitement to have the opportunity to reduce inequality, improve the environment and work for her constituents, saying: ‘Thank you very much for your support, and I look forward to serving you, very very humbly.’

The turnout across Bristol West was, high at 70 per cent, with some areas of the constituency seeing returns as high as 85 per cent.

This is an increase on 2010 figures, when Bristol West saw 66.90 per cent turnout.

Hall told Epigram he thought University of Bristol Students' Union (Bristol SU) had ‘done well to get so many people involved’ in the election process, and added, ‘the real winner is democracy.’

Featured Image: Flickr/ Diamond Geezer

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