With Labour briefing that they have lost the mayoral election and the Ferguson campaign quietly delighted, it seems like it’s all over. George Ferguson, a Liberal Democrat turned Independent who has run under his own banner of Bristol 1st, appears to have pulled off a dramatic overtaking of previous tight favourite Labour candidate Marvin Rees.
An Independent mayor will have consequences for Bristol, in my opinion not entirely undesirable consequences. Bristol council has been the scene of political logjam between Labour and the Liberal Democrats recently, maybe Ferguson is the man to create an effective bipartisan administration. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
There is a point to draw from this for Lib Dems. While the Liberal Democrat candidate in the election seems to have got a respectable share of the vote, he was not particularly favoured at any point to have got into the final two. Instead, Ferguson, a man ostensibly with broadly liberal values but completely free of the Liberal Democrat party label has managed to triumph not only over the Liberal Democrats but over Labour as well. Perhaps in a parallel universe where Liberal Democrats are soaring in national polls at the moment, the Lib Dem candidate in Bristol would have stormed to victory. It appears that, in this universe, in 2012, Bristol could just not collectively bring themselves to vote for us.
There is also the turnout, apparently around the 28% mark. Ordinarily this would be hailed as a pitiful turnout. In light of the 10% turnouts being reported around the country for PCC elections and the historically low 18% in Manchester, 28% doesn’t look so bad.
Update: Word is that Ferguson and Rees have gone through to the second round. Ferguson’s on 33,321 votes to Rees’ 25,896.