Sunday, 10 January 2016

Six [political] things you might not know about me

I've just been selected as one of the Green candidates for the target seat of Bedminster (along with my fellow Green Will Quick). Its a target for us because we were very, very close to winning last year (the pie chart from May 2015 shows we are clearly Labour's main challengers and are only a few percent from victory). 

This is very exciting for me as a long-time Green with a well developed view on Bristol neighbourhood priorities, a clear vision for the city - and a lot of experience to offer. 

Here are six things you might not know about me which tell you something about me and my political story:   

1. To my knowledge I was the very first member of the Green Party in the Bristol South constituency (I was probably the first member south of the river too) in 1981 when I was 19 yrs old. Membership and support in Bristol South, where I was born, brought up and still live, is now several hundred times greater - and the city now has 14 councillors (rapidly up from 1 in 2006; and 6 in 2014) . Brilliant!

2. When I was training to become a science teacher in 1985/6 at the University of Bristol, Don Foster, then the councillor for Cabot ward on Avon County Council and leader of the SDP-Liberal Alliance council group, was one of my tutors (a very good one, with a great sense of humour). Whatever happened to him!?  [Lib-Dem MP for Bath who retired in 2015, was Lib-Dem Chief Whip - and Comptroller of the Household, an ancient position in the English Royal Household which apparently includes acting as an usher at Royal Garden Parties!]      

3. I’ve been a local election candidate many times and in a number of wards over a 30+ yr period. I was the Greens general election candidate for Bristol South in 1987 when Dawn Primarolo was controversially selected by Labour (who de-selected sitting Labour MP Michael Cocks). Whatever happened to her!? [Minister of State in several roles; was Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons; now Dame Dawn…retired as an MP in 2015 and is now in the House of Lords].

4. Talking of people who’ve achieved, but little that's politically radical…In the late 1980’s/early 1990s I spoke for the Greens at public meetings where a certain George Ferguson represented the Liberals and John Bercow represented the Conservatives (and was then a very strong Thatcherite). Whatever happened to them!? [First Elected Mayor of Bristol, seeking re-election in May 2016; and Speaker of the House of Commons respectively]

5. Whilst a science teacher at Pen Park School in Southmead during the 1990s one of my classes was visited (unplanned!) by then Conservative Secretary of State for Education John Patten MP. He watched me from the back of my lab teaching Big Bang Theory, the expanding universe and red shift, including a highly technical demonstration :) involving popping balloons filled with dried peas. Whatever happened to him!? [He was made a life peer with a seat in the House of Lords, Baron Patten]

6. I’m most proud of sharing a platform in 2000 (speaking against the UK adopting the Euro) with truly radical political achiever Caroline Lucas, early in her career as an MEP. [Caroline was an MEP for over ten years and became the Greens first leader and its first MP in 2010 (re-elected in 2015)]

Having contested many local elections from 1983 onwards in the south and east of Bristol, as well as contesting general elections in Bristol South in 1987 and 2001 and Bristol East in 2010, I've been a glutton for electoral punishment :) Being the Green candidate for the target seat of Bedminster in May 2016 however both Will Quick and I have a very good chance of winning  - please vote for me and for Will if you live in the ward!!

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