News: 2017 General Election candidate profiles: Bristol North West

Ellie Pipe, June 1, 2017

Bristol North West has reliably elected the candidate of the winning party in every General Election since 1974, so it is certainly one worth watching on June 8.

Incumbent Charlotte Leslie, the city’s only Conservative MP after the 2015 elections, stands as current favourite but is by no means safe. The seat could still swing either way and Labour is following hot on her heels, although bookies have Leslie as the clear odds-on favourite.

In alphabetical order, here are the 2017 candidates and what they have to say:

Sharmila Bousa
Greens

Sharmila Bousa worked in communications and development in the arts and charities sector, before retraining as a bodyworker and birth practitioner.

Although her name will still appear on the ballot paper on June 8, Bousa has stopped campaigning in order to give Labour candidate Darren Jones the best chance of winning the seat.

“Having lived in Bristol for seven years and Bristol North West for three, I have fallen in love with this vibrant city,” she said before the deal was made last week. “I’m no career politician, instead, I have a wealth of real work and family experience that will help me listen, care about and represent you as constituents.

“I want to help Bristol lead the way on climate change by attracting investment and creating jobs in the green energy industry, by building affordable and sustainable housing, and by taking rigorous steps to reduce air pollution and improve public transport throughout the city.

“If elected, I will also campaign for electoral reform and for a second referendum on Europe, fight to protect the NHS from privatisation, speak out to halt cuts to education, reinstate maintenance grants for higher education and stop fees. I will also help reverse cuts to benefits, mental health and family services and push for a clamp down on tax avoidance by large corporations.”

Celia Downie
Lib Dems

Celia Downie is a teacher who has also been a parish councillor, Avon county councillor and South Gloucestershire councillor.

“Bristol North West is a place where people are passing through to all the new houses,” she says. “The schools put a lot of effort into encouraging people to cycle, but we do not really have a lot of provision at all. There are a couple of cycle paths to Southmead Hospital and that’s about it.

“I have been talking to cyclists and they have been saying it would be good if drivers could give them more space. They would like to have a head start at traffic lights and it is possible to have a green light for cyclists and then a second one for vehicles. Comparatively, this is a cheap measure that would improve things dramatically.

“Cycling is not for everybody, but those people that we can get out of their cars need to feel safe. I came out of retirement to run in this General Election. I was so angry with what happened with the EU.

“I have also been talking to schools and they are very worried about the cuts.”

Darren Jones
Labour

Darren Jones grew up in Lawrence Weston and Shirehampton. He now works as a consumer rights lawyer, chaired Marvin Rees’ winning mayoral campaign and helped lead Andy Burnham’s losing Labour leadership bid.

“Parents are being asked to donate money to their local schools, teachers are losing their jobs, kids are losing their school meals, nurses are at the foodbank and now older people are losing their winter fuel allowance and their social care protections. This can’t be right. And it’s exactly why I’m running to be the local MP for my home – to stand up for my friends, family and community.”

“We also need to get the best deal from Brexit for Bristol and for Britain. I’m the only progressive pro-European candidate who can win in Bristol North West. So if you voted to Remain, or if you voted to Leave but worry about how we leave, then I hope you’ll support me on Thursday, June 8.

“I am a pro-European, fighting for the best deal for Britain and against a Brexit at any cost, campaigning for fairer funding for our schools and the local NHS and better transport, housing and renewable energy investments.”

Charlotte Leslie
Conservatives

Charlotte Leslie was raised and grew up in Bristol and was elected MP for Bristol North West in 2010. She is the former editor of the Bow Group magazine Crossbow and has written for a number of national publications.

“Revolution of the transport planning and railway infrastructure is the one thing I would do if I could,” she told Bristol24/7. “I would build a Henbury loop line, something that’s not only viable, but essential if we are to have any movement in traffic.

“I’m hopeful that if I’m elected, we can start to get this moving. Everyone seems determined not to look at what will be the game changer for Bristol traffic and it’s just so illogical and damaging for so many areas of our communities. It’s such a lovely city, but we are putting businesses off coming here.

“I have been involved in community projects, such as getting the historic Lamplighters pub in Shirehampton reopened.

“Access to jobs, air quality and quality of life all rest on getting the transport issues right. I would like to see a cross modal transport system in Bristol.”

2017 prediction:
A Conservative win

2015 General Election results:
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative: 22,767
Darren Jones, Labour: 17,823
Michael Frost, UKIP: 4,889
Clare Campion-Smith, Lib Dems: 3,214
Justin Quinnel, Green: 2,952
Anne Lemon, TUSC: 160

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