Tories aim to become Bristol’s second party

May 26, 2009

I’m previewing the council elections on June 4 and profiling the main parties on the council for Original. Today, it’s the Conservatives:

The Conservatives say they aim to become the second biggest party in Bristol after the council elections on June 4th.

Leader Richard Eddy predicts a big increase in the Tory vote, claiming they have had a good response on the doorstep while out campaigning in Bristol.

He claims their policies on education, crime, value for money and transport are being well-received, saying: “These are the things people want to see something done about, not the faffing around the council has become known for.”

The Tories currently have just 13 councillors, compared to 24 for Labour, 32 for the Liberal Democrats and 1 Green. This has put them in the role of ‘kingmaker’ on the council, as their support provides a majority for either the Lib Dems or Labour, allowing them to run the council.

They’ve used that power a number of times recently, switching their support from the Lib Dems to Labour and back again in the last few years. This has led to accusations of “game-playing”.

But Richard Eddy defended his policy as “responsible”, saying: “We have to work with what the electorate give us. They’ve been quite clear that they do not have sufficient confidence in any of the three main parties.”

He also claims the Tories can shake off their reputation as only representing traditional white, middle-class Tory voters in areas like Stoke Bishop, Horfield and Westbury on Trym.

He said: “We’re already representing the whole breadth of the city of Bristol. I represent a seat in Bishopsworth which contains part of the Withywood council estate. We also represent places as diverse as Avonmouth and Stockwood.

“Our candidates reflect that diversity. For the first time in the last council elections, one fifth of our candidates were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. Half of them were under 35. So I think things have changed.”

He admits the MPs’ expenses row has hit support for his party, and other mainstream politicians. But he pleaded for voters not to take it out on local politicians.

He said: “People are fed up with the parliamentary expenses row and that will affect the turnout.

“There are many councillors up and down the country of all political colours who frankly do deserve people’s support. They’re not in it for money.

There are many of us who have not got jobs or been otherwise out of pocket as a result of wanting to get involved in local politics.

“But all of us on the doorstep are finding that people are more cynical about it. What I’ve sought to do is to say this is about you and your community, and about gettign a better deal for your part of the city – and for the city overall.”


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