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Historic Bristol general election results see first ever Green MP and Tory wipeout

All seats in and around Bristol were won by Labour, except Bristol Central where the Greens romped to an impressive victory.

Photo: Alex Riley

General Election 2024

Bristol has elected its first ever Green MP amid a Tory wipeout on the city’s fringes as part of an historic Labour landslide in Thursday’s general election. 

Carla Denyer, the Green Party’s co-leader, achieved a huge swing from Labour in Bristol Central, which was more than enough to unseat sitting MP Thangam Debbonaire. In the culmination of a hard-fought race between Labour and the Greens that attracted national headlines during the campaign, Denyer declared in her victory speech: “Bristol had made history”.

Bristol general election results saw the city’s four other seats comfortably won by Labour, including the new seat of Bristol North East, despite swings to the Greens and Reform UK. 

And long-held Tory seats on the edge of the city also went red, from Jack Lopresti getting booted out of Filton and Bradley Stoke to Jacob Rees-Mogg losing his seat in North East Somerset and Hanham. 

Voter turnout across the city was down on the last election, but victorious Labour candidates said people had voted for “change and national renewal”, as our new prime minister Keir Starmer gave his victory speech in the early hours of Friday morning.

First ever Bristol Green MP

At 3:45am, the Oasis Academy Brislington erupted with a deafening roar of triumph as Carla Denyer was declared MP for Bristol Central. “Bristol – you made history today,” announced the Green party co-leader at the podium.

A stony-faced Thangam Debbonaire watched from the sidelines as her near decade in post came to an end, in the most headline-grabbing of the Bristol general election results. But her speech celebrated the Labour landslide sweeping the country, saying: “I’m so proud of the role I had in making that happen.” 

Denyer won by a 10,000-strong majority, 24,539 votes to Labour’s 14,132. Trailing in third were the Conservatives with just shy of 2,000 votes. The controversial Kellie-Jay Keen, standing for the Party of Women got the smallest vote share, with 196. 

The Ipsos exit poll gave Greens a 99% chance of taking the constituency, and a quiet confidence could be felt from the Green camp throughout the night. 

Bristol Central stole the show at this count, with many of the attendant press corps interested in this seat only. Denyer’s 2am arrival at the count caused a media scrum; after her victory she did wall to wall interviews until 5:30am – only leaving when the hall was forced to close. 

As the sun rose, the Cable finally got our turn with Denyer. Asked what led to such a stonking Green victory, she said: “It was a long time coming.” For her, the inevitable Tory defeat meant people were more able to vote for the Greens. 

And she said the party’s policy platforms also would have attracted voters: “£15 minimum wage, introducing a wealth tax, better funded public services.” 

As we spoke, the news broke that the Greens had just taken North Herefordshire. By the end of the night, they had taken all four of their target seats. 

“I’m still concerned a Labour government with a large majority could drift even further to the right in government,” said Denyer, adding that more Green MPs would be the “antidote” to this. 

Meanwhile, in Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy held onto her seat – which has been Labour since 1992. But her celebration seemed tempered. “The excitement is dampened by the mess the Tories have left us,” she said. “So it’s not just, ‘yay, we have our hands on power again’, it’s like – now the real hard work starts.”  

She added: “It’s very sad that Thangam, who has been a brilliant MP, isn’t there, it’s rather overshadowed the results today,” adding that Labour activists were a “very close knit bunch.” Debbonaire did not speak to the press. 

“Thangam was being bombarded from all sides,” McCarthy continued. “They ran a dishonest campaign, like saying things in their leaflets about how we’re going to privatise the NHS, or that we haven’t done anything about the environment.”

When we put this to Ani Stafford-Townsend, the Green candidate for Bristol East, she said: “I don’t think there’s any basis in that, it’s always hard to lose – but the Green party stands by its integrity, we run honest campaigns. 

That Karyn Smyth held Bristol South was not a surprise, but the significant vote share Reform got certainly was. Karin Smyth got 18,521 votes, the Green Party’s Jai Breitnauer won 10,855, and Reform’s Richard Visick got 6,195. 

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Tory wipeout as Rees-Mogg gets the boot

A whirlwind of events – albeit expected – unfolded at the count for North East Somerset and Hanham last night. From Labour’s Dan Norris soaring to victory with 20,739 votes to Conservative’s Jacob Rees-Mogg fleeing the sports hall upon his loss, the showdown between the two candidates in this election proved a noteworthy rematch. 

After 14 years of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s huge popularity in the constituency of North East Somerset – now including Hanham – the affluent Conservative member’s parliamentary career has come to a halt. 

Labour’s Dan Norris soared to victory, with 20,739 votes, over Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg

In a frenzied end to the night for the former seat holder, Rees-Mogg was chased out of the fitness centre at the University of Bath. Before fleeing, he presented a speech: “Congratulations to Dan Norris, who has been a servant of North East Somerset – or Wansdyke as it was then – and I’m sure he’ll be a devoted constituency MP in future.

“And congratulations to Starmer who has led his party to what seems to be an historic victory, and this is the great virtue of our democracy, so I congratulate both of them”.

From 2005-2010, Norris served as the MP for the (formerly) Wansdyke constituency, before it transformed into North East Somerset, upon Rees-Mogg’s 2010 election victory. In 2021, he was elected metro mayor of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). 

In his role as metro mayor, Norris has not been shy of controversy, from disputes with former Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to “unlawfully” spending £10,000 of taxpayer money to fund his infamous bus campaign. 

When asked what he would do differently as MP, Norris said: “I’m going to hold more surgeries as an MP, which I really enjoy, and I’ve been disappointed as metro mayor, I haven’t been able to do that as much as I’d like. It’s simply that there are roughly a million people you represent and there’s just one of you. The scale of being an MP is much smaller and I like that.”

Norris also scathingly condemned the Conservative government. “It’s got into a shambolic state, when the previous government told you the sky was blue you’d have to go outside and check, because there was parties that they denied and they’re putting money on bets, it is crazy unacceptable stuff,” he said.

“We should be leading the world not showing how badly you can do it.”

As for the other parties, Reform UK’s Paul McDonell assumed third-place over Liberal Democrats’ Dine Romero, securing 3,546 more votes with a total of 7,424. By comparison, in 2019 Dine Romero placed third – narrowly behind the Labour Party.

Labour sweep to first victory in Filton and Bradley Stoke

Labour’s Clare Hazelgrove giving her victory speech

Labour’s Claire Hazelgrove emphatically took Filton and Bradley Stoke from sitting Tory MP Jack Lopresti, who had held the mostly suburban seat to the northeast of Bristol since its formation in 2010.

After the Ipsos exit poll gave Hazelgrove a 99% chance of taking the constituency, which Labour targeted in 2019 but failed to make headway in, there was a long wait for the results. When they came in shortly before 4.30am, she had taken almost double the incumbent’s votes – 22,905 to his 12,905.

Translated into vote share, Labour took 45.5% compared with 25.6% for the Tories. The result sparked scenes of jubilation from supporters of Hazelgrove – whose rivals acknowledged the effort and energy she had put into campaigning for the seat over the past two years since being selected.

Voter turnout was down from 2019, falling to 65.1%, compared with 72.6%. It’s worth noting though that this is not an exact comparison, with the constituency boundaries having been redrawn in the meantime.

There was tangible confidence in the Labour camp all night – and tacit acceptance of defeat from Lopresti long before the end.

In her victory speech, Hazelgrove paid tribute to “people who had voted Labour for the very first time” and said she would work hard to repay their trust – and to be an “active, impactful and approachable MP” for all.

“In me, you will have an MP who will listen and act,” she added.

Hazelgrove told the Cable she believed the result was a combination of her own work, enthusiasm for Labour and disillusionment with Lopresti, who some voters have accused of being insufficiently engaged locally.

“You don’t get a result like this unless people want you to win,” she said. “We’ve never won here before – this is a historic night.”

She said her priorities for the constituency included addressing the cost of living crisis, highlighting local NHS pressures including difficulties accessing dentistry, and “getting on the case” around funding levels for schools in South Gloucestershire. “People need to see results from us,” she said.

Labour supporters celebrating the win that was out of their reach in 2019

Speaking to the Cable after the results had been announced, Lopresti said he felt he had run a strong campaign.

“There’s nothing I would do differently,” he said. “But the national mood had clearly changed – we [the Conservative government] had made some big mistakes, from the pandemic onwards, and this wasn’t a surprise to see.”

He said Hazelgrove had done a “really good job of establishing herself in the constituency” and would be a “local champion for our community”.

Outgoing Tory MP Jack Lopresti

Aside from the two main parties, Reform – which interviews around the constituency seemed to pick up significant support for – performed broadly in line with pre-election predictions, taking 13.5% of the vote.

But that was far behind claims made by its candidate Stephen Burge, who before the election suggested Nigel Farage’s party could challenge the Conservatives for second place. In the end, Burge was not present when the results were read out.

Lopresti, who lost votes to the party, said the share of the ballots was still a worry and said he was “appalled” by racist remarks made by Reform candidates.

“Clearly though, they’ve tapped into an anger and a concern – and I wouldn’t disrespect anybody who’s voted for them,” he said. “They wanted to have their say and protest – and all of us need to be mindful of that.”

The other smaller parties had a decent night. With neither the Lib Dems or Greens holding any realistic chance of challenging for the seat, candidates Benet Allen and James Nelson seemed hopeful from midway through the count of holding their deposits.

Both did so – with the Greens taking 8.2% and the Lib Dems 7.1% – and will now look to build on those scores should left-leaning voters become disillusioned with Labour over the coming years.

Comfy Labour wins in Bristol North West and North East

There were no big surprises in Bristol North West or North East, as Labour’s candidate in both seats secured huge majorities as the results rolled in at City Academy in Redfield overnight.

Labour’s candidate in North West, Darren Jones, who had held the position of shadow chief secretary to the Treasury since last year, scored an impressive 24,058 votes, while the Tories were obliterated.

Their candidate, Laura Saunders, who the party abandoned over her involvement in the betting scandal, got only 6,773 votes – a share of just 14% That’s compared to the 21,638 the party got last time out with a 38.7% share of the vote.

Speaking after the results were read, Jones said in his victory speech: “At this election, our changed Labour Party made the case for returning politics to the service of the British people. Turning away from years of division and self-interest which has blighted our politics.

“We have made the case for change, and a decade of national renewal.”

The Green candidate in the constituency, Mary Page, secured 8,389 in second place here.

Labour’s Damien Egan, in the sparkling new Bristol North East constituency, scored 19,004 votes. The Greens again came second, with their candidate Eastville councillor Lorraine Francis securing 7,837 votes.

Damien Egan, the new Labour MP for Bristol North East

Rose Hulse, the Conservative candidate here, came third with 6,216. She was at the count but disappeared moments before she and her co-candidates were called up to the podium to hear the results.

Although there’s no direct comparison because of boundary changes brought in for this election, that’s a huge drop from the 19,134 party got here in 2019.

The Reform candidate came fourth in both races, Scarlett O’Connor in North West and Anthony Michael New in North East, with 4,863 votes and 5,418 votes respectively.

Egan’s success tonight in Bristol North East comes after he beat Bristol’s ex-mayor Marvin Rees to the nomination for the seat, and his win at the Kingswood by-election in February – overturning a huge Tory majority.

Born in Kingswood, Egan cut his teeth in politics as mayor of a southeast London borough. Speaking after last night’s result, he said: “Bristol North East has joined Britain in voting for change. The road ahead is going to be tough after 14 years of Conservative decline.

“We are in a position where we are paying more and getting less. It isn’t unreasonable to see a GP, that if you call an ambulance you’re confident it will turn up on time, that if you call the police you know they’ll show up.”

Turnout in Bristol North East was 60.2% – 42,157 of 70,076. There is no direct comparison on that figure, due to boundary changes that were brought in ahead of last night’s vote, but last time out the old Bristol North East constituency saw a 70.1% turnout.

In Bristol North West, turnout was 65.1%, down from 73.3% in 2019, at 48,744 of 74,869.

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