Just hours after Labour’s Marvin Rees won the Bristol mayoralty for a second term, his party lost its council majority, with the Greens gaining an unexpected 13 council seats. After the Greens came second in the mayoral race, swings from Labour to Green, including in seemingly safe Labour areas, unseated long-serving councillors and cabinet members. Labour had hoped to keep overall control of the council, but the Greens caught them up as the joint-largest party with 24 councillors apiece. It’s hard to draw definite conclusions about what caused this shift: the increasing importance of the climate crisis in voters’ minds, a strong Green campaign and factional infighting disrupting Labour’s one, demographic shifts over the last five years, including rapid gentrification of inner-city areas; some Labour voters being dissatisfied with Keir Starmer’s leadership, or the Labour mayor being a divisive figure? It’s too soon to say which of these had the most impact. While Bristol is often considered a hotbed of Momentum Corbynites, it’s important to remember that not so long ago the city had both a Tory and a Lib Dem MP, a Lib Dem-controlled council and elected a former Lib Dem independent mayor in 2012. It appears the Greens have attracted voters from Labour’s left, but also people who once voted Lib Dem. Since Marvin Rees was elected, Bristol has taken action on green issues. A clean air zone will be coming into force in October, charging polluting vehicles to enter the city centre. (The mayor wanted to ban diesel cars from entering, but the government overruled him). The council has consulted on low traffic neighbourhood pilots and closed major city centre roads to through traffic. In opposition, Green councillors have also made an impact. In 2018, Bristol became the first city to declare a climate emergency, and many other cities have followed suit. As a result, Bristol’s target is to be a carbon neutral city by 2030 – something Marvin Rees recently described as a “massively challenging” but necessary aim. The Greens have campaigned hard on the protection of green spaces in the building of new housing developments, as the Labour council has been criticised by some for not doing enough to safeguard nature and biodiversity during attempts to tackle the housing crisis. One theory for the Green surge is an increasing awareness of the need for action on the climate crisis. It seems some voters didn’t see Labour as the green option despite the steps they have taken over the last five years. Bristol is certainly a self-styled progressive, environmentally minded city. This is the opportunity for Labour and the Greens to cooperate on environmental and social justice. But that requires them to work together; the Labour mayor being less confrontational and listening to opposition councillors, and the new group of Green councillors committing to helping him find solutions, rather than scoring political points from the sidelines.
Guardian 13th May 2021 read more »
We’re delighted to announce the Leader of Glasgow City Council Cllr Susan Aitken has been appointed Co-chair of UK100. As one of UK100’s 50 most ambitious members, Glasgow City Council has pledged to do everything in its power to get both the city and its own operations to Net Zero by 2030. Taking up the new role will enable Glasgow’s SNP leader to embed her political insights into the network’s long-term strategy to support ambitious, local climate action across the UK. The announcement comes a little over six months away from what will be an historic UN climate conference at COP26, hosted this year by the UK in Glasgow. Glasgow City Council joins nearly 40 other local authorities from West Midlands and Wiltshire to Cornwall and Camden who have joined the global campaign. West Midlands Combined Authority and UK100 are hosting a conference on the UK’s Net Zero future on July 13, where Cllr Aitken will be speaking. This event is the key milestone for local leaders in the UK in the lead up to COP26, building on the commitments and actions already made by local leaders. And it is designed to accelerate the shift to Net Zero, by demonstrating the power and effectiveness of local leadership on climate.
UK100 13th May 2021 read more »