Following the success of the #yestomayor campaign the electors of Bristol bucked the UK trend and voted in favour of an elected mayor (In the final results 41,032 voted Yes, 35,880 voted No to a mayor)
Whilst much mileage has been run up between the bloggers and the campaigners over the pros and cons of the plan now begins the long crawl to the election of Bristol’s first elected mayor in mid November.
In earnest and out of interest I travelled down to see the first candidate make a play for the votes of the common and not so common Bristolian. George Ferguson Bristols red-trousered pro-business entrepreneur offered his early vision for Bristol.
Below begins an extract (poorly extracted and edited from memory, the yadas signify no positive or negative valence to the missing content) from George Fergusons speech to the masses (approx. 130-150) on the 14th December at the Tobacco Factory in Southville.yada yada yada ‘involved since 1965’ yada yada yada ‘hated some things that have happened since’ yada yada yada ‘could be more brilliant’ yada yada yada ‘put Bristol before all else, before our political parties and our business’ yada yada yada ‘Put Bristol First’ yada yada yada ‘All parties and none allowed to rally round this banner’ yada yada yada ‘Local governance polluted by obsession with party politics’ yada yada yada ‘As such people have been elected because of what has gone on nationally’ yada yada yada ‘Power’ yada ‘Will grab more and redistribute it to where it belongs to communities and neighbourhoods’ yada yada yada ‘Take responsibility for services they rely on’ yada yada yada ‘what can people offer’ yada yada yada ‘brave step standing as an independent’ yada yada yada ‘Needs red hot campaign agent’ yada yada yada ‘fundraising, crowd funding, ground up fivers more valuable than four figure sums’ yada yada yada ‘City can be changed by a moment like this, in order to do that we need to look deeply at the issues’ yada yada yada ‘We need people’ yada ‘who know what needs doing for Bristol’ yada ‘from business who know how to run things’ yada yada yada ‘use entrepreneurship talent in this city to achieve things’ yada yada yada ‘both social and business entrepreneurship’ yada yada yada ‘We can build pride in this city’ yada yada yada ‘We have a cynical city, I won’t be knocking other candidates’ yada yada yada ‘I just believe I have something to offer that hopefully is better if it isn’t may they win!’ yada yada yada ‘I want an ethical campaign that unites us all’ yada yada yada ‘standing to unite Bristol’ yada yada yada ‘Worst thing you can do is creating divisions’ yada yada yada ‘Lets respect our opponents’ yada yada yada ‘Techinical point’ yada yada yada ‘Bristol1st may have to be defined as a party’ yada yada yada ‘The last thing I want to do is great another party, it’s a way to mark us out from any other that may stand’ yada yada yada ‘I can assure you that I am as independent as they come, I have allowed my Lib Dem membership to lapse’ yada yada yada ‘looking to set up project/policy groups’ yada yada yada ‘Encompass more than the urban area’ yada yada yada ‘officers taken control’ yada yada yada ‘just let them try and institutionalise me*’
*George Ferguson was asked if there was a way you can prevent yourself becoming institutionalised by the council itself.
At first look it is a strong statement from George Ferguson, hinting at a stronger role for both entrepreneurs and citizens and a blatantly strong independent stance against ‘party politics’. But as a campaign is it anything new? I’m yet to be convinced. The anti party politics sentiment could be the strongest and most coherant element for campaigners to unite around. The challenge however seems to be that many bloggers are already strongly pushing the fact that he was a party member and campaigner within a political party. George was keen not to make policy proclamations and used the event as a listening rather than a sounding board. He came across positively particularly regarding openness and positive campaigning. It will be interesting to see how he gets on with both crowdsourcing ideas and funding and the appetite of Bristol for a ground up campaign of this nature. I think at present there is much behind the idea and little about the man, if George Ferguson is going to convince the electors or Bristol he’ll have to convince them about the man as well as the ideal.
George is recruiting for ideas, helpers and campaigners to join his effort to become Mayor of Bristol