Bristol Central constituency General Election 2024 guide -candidates and all you need to know

Labour is fighting to keep hold of its seat in Bristol Central from an insurgent Green Party in a closely fought race. Voters in this constituency complain of being deluged by leaflets while other parts of Bristol have seen barely any, reflecting the huge level of focus on the seat.

Bristol Central is mostly made up of the old Bristol West constituency, with a few changes. Bristol West has been held by Labour since 2015, with the current MP Thangam Debbonaire running to keep her job and see off a challenge from the Green Party leader Carla Denyer.

Before she was first elected, the seat was represented by the Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams, from 2005 to 2015. The Greens have now put a lot of resources on trying to overturn Labour’s giant majority of 28,000, and the polls suggest they might be able to do it.

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The constituency includes Hotwells & Harbourside, Clifton, Clifton Down, Clifton Village, Cliftonwood, Spike Island, the city centre, Redcliffe, St Pauls, St Werburghs, Montpelier, Cotham, Kingsdown, Redland and Bishopston. After boundary changes, it no longer includes Ashley Down, Easton, Barton Hill, Redfield, Lawrence Hill, the Dings and Old Market.

Speaking to ITV News, Ms Debbonaire said: “It’s a choice between having an opposition MP on the back benches or a member of parliament able to represent Bristol at the heart of the Labour government, that’s the real choice facing people here.”

Since she won that giant majority however, the Labour Party has switched leaders from Jeremy Corbyn — who was unpopular nationally but popular within Bristol — to Keir Starmer, who has put off some voters in the area due to Labour’s stance on the war in Gaza, and dropping a promise to spend £28 billion every year investing in green projects and tackling climate change.

The two frontrunners to be the new Bristol Central MP at the 2024 General Election - left, Carla Denyer from the Green Party, and right, Thangam Debbonaire, from Labour
The two frontrunners to be the new Bristol Central MP at the 2024 General Election - left, Carla Denyer from the Green Party, and right, Thangam Debbonaire, from Labour -Credit:Bristol Post

Important factors also include the recent local election results, which saw the Greens become the largest party on Bristol City Council. However, voters tend to make different decisions in local elections and national elections, so the local results don’t guarantee another Green win.

Speaking to Times Radio, Ms Debbonaire said: “People in Bristol are desperately worried about climate change and the nature and biodiversity crisis that we’re in. I’ve been really glad to be able to tell them about Labour’s plans. If we are elected we will be the greenest government ever. The Green Party does not hold a monopoly on green values and green views.

“Admittedly the Tory Party has set that bar very low, but we set our bar very high. We will have a publicly owned renewable energy company that will enable us to double onshore wind, triple solar, quadruple offshore wind, and invest in tidal and wave. Renewable energy companies have got capital, they just need a government to set clear policy direction and reform planning.

“I think it’s right that a government-in-waiting is deciding that if we don’t need to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, given that they don’t have a lot right now, it’s right that we’re going to focus on things that renewable energy companies tell us that they actually need.”

Ms Debbonaire is a professional cellist and the shadow culture secretary. If she keeps her seat and Labour forms the next government, she is likely to get a prominent role in the cabinet. However, the latest seat-by-seat poll from YouGov shows the Greens have a strong chance of winning in Bristol Central.

The poll predicts the Greens winning 49.6 per cent of votes, ahead of Labour at 37.1 per cent, and the other parties far behind. Ms Denyer said electing a “handful of Green MPs” would allow the party to push Labour to “think bigger and act bolder”, on issues such as climate change.

Speaking to Times Radio, Ms Denyer said: “The IFS has been clear that between Labour and the Conservatives, there is a conspiracy of silence because they’re not saying how they’ll fund the promises they’re making. The Green Party manifesto is about making this country fairer and making it easier for those on low incomes.

“A carbon tax will make some products and services more expensive, but we will take the dividend from that carbon tax and plough it into other ways of helping people. We’ll be building more affordable housing, more social housing, we’ll be giving councils the power to introduce rent controls, we’ll be providing more reliable and affordable public transport, and making sure everyone has access to an NHS dentist.

“There are myriad ways in which we will make life more affordable for people. The carbon tax is mostly focused on industry. It’s a signal to industry to encourage them to decarbonise faster. So although the carbon tax will raise money in the first few years, the objective isn’t actually to raise money, it’s to be a signal to industry to decarbonise so that we can all live in a fairer, greener country.”

Also standing in Bristol Central are: Samuel Williams for the Conservatives, Nicholas Coombes for the Liberal Democrats, Robert Clarke for Reform UK, and Kellie-Jay Keen for the Party of Women. All the parties were asked to provide short pitches for this article.

Mr Williams said: “My grandmother came to the UK from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation and worked in the NHS to help rebuild our nation following the Second World War. Growing up as a mixed-race, dyslexic boy from a single-parent home, I know the challenges many of us face.

Samuel Williams is the Conservative candidate for Bristol Central -Credit:Copyright Unknown
Samuel Williams is the Conservative candidate for Bristol Central -Credit:Copyright Unknown

“An experienced businessman and charity leader, I stood to be the Mayor of the West of England in 2021; and I'm here to be a voice for the unheard and underrepresented — a voice for a hopeful future and a thriving Bristol Central. Bristol Central is full of potential, vibrant communities, and rich history. But under Labour's prolonged city, regional, and parliamentary leadership in Bristol Central, we've seen excessive spending and mismanagement.

“Projects like the failed Bristol Energy company have wasted resources that could have been better used. I believe Labour has neglected our city's transport, education, and affordable housing needs.”

He said he would prioritise safeguarding climate and green spaces, improving local healthcare, advocating for new housing, investing in education, and supporting local businesses. He said a vote for the Conservatives in Bristol Central was a “vote for change”.

He added: “The Conservative Party has a proven track record of delivering results, from cost of living support to raising the National Living Wage and investing in the NHS. We’ve led on climate change and supported Ukraine against aggression. This election, let’s choose a brighter future for Bristol Central. Vote for change. Vote for me, Samuel Williams. Together, we can make Bristol Central thrive.”

Mr Coombes, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is a newly elected councillor and a chartered town planner, specialising in energy and transport infrastructure. He said his party would stop sewage from being dumped in rivers and push for Britain to rejoin the European single market.

He said: “Liberal Democrats will invest in carers, recognising and rewarding the work that they do looking after loved ones, and supporting the NHS. Having fought to remain in the European Union, we want to put Britain on a path to re-joining the single market; to improve relations with our neighbours, boost trade and cut tariffs.

“We are fighting to clean up our environment and stop water companies dumping sewage. We would continue to decarbonise energy supply, started when the Liberal Democrats were in government but trashed since by the Conservatives. Liberal Democrats would also introduce a proportional voting system, to end the frustration of tactical voting and deliver representative government.”

Mr Clarke, the Reform UK candidate, is an English teacher and runs a language school. He said his party would cut immigration and campaign against the “globalist agenda”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “Bristol Central is the crucible of wokeness, so I’m here to enlighten the unenlightened about national sovereignty and how globalisation will shut us all down, especially with the new climate agenda. We don’t really want to be locked down in our own city. We don’t want to be told what to do. We don’t want to not drive cars. We don’t want to not fly.

“We have provoked Russia and we should not be putting our money into a globalist war. We will not send our children to a war in Ukraine. You’ve got Nato and the EU pushing the borders towards Russia. We all know that, we all see that, we all see the globalist agenda behind it. Four million young people have left that country so they don’t have to fight.

“What you have in Bristol is an awful lot of working class people in the suburbs that have been pushed out by the woke generation of people, with a lot of money coming from London. They will not want to send their children to a globalist war. I teach English to Polish people in this city, they don’t want to send their children to war.

“Putin is just a figurehead of a huge nation. You have to remember that Russia was allied to the West when we got rid of the Nazis. We’re the biggest Nazi-killers in the world, we destroyed the Nazi regime.”