By Rikki Du Heaume
2012 has certainly been a busy year for politics and there is still more to come. Perhaps the most important political event for Bristol has been the referendum on an elected mayor. Seeing Bristolians voting 41,032 in favour of having an elected mayor, and a more democratic form of local government. However, the seeds of change weren’t solely being sown in Bristol. In fact one party was making waves up and down the country, most notably in the London Mayoral elections.
As the big battle between Boris and Ken was dominating press columns all over the country another race was going on for the less prestigious third place. Many commentators had called in favour of the traditional Liberal Democrat camp, but a significant upset was coming their way.
As we sat glued to the television waiting with bated breath for them to finally call the result, the media area was starting to buzz. The BBC’s correspondent woke back up and the candidates were called to the stage. The returning officer began reading out the results. The collective sigh came when the BNP came bottom, followed by UKIP and an independent. And all of a sudden it was announced that the Liberal Democrats had come fourth.
Then to everyone’s surprise it was announced that Jenny Jones from the Green Party had come 3rd. And it wasn’t Just London where the Greens were making waves. We had the now deputy leader, Will Duckworth, win the Labour ward of Dudley, as well as other significant gains in strong Labour and Liberal Democrat wards, along with many seats being held. This automatically suggested that the Lib Dems had burnt their bridges and that green is the new yellow.
However, when Boris won the London Mayoral election with over 1 million votes, speculation also arose to him being the next leader of the Conservatives. This was led by his opponent Ken Livingston. We were then treated by a fantastic victory speech by Boris who finished by simply saying “May the 4th be with you”.
With all this, and coalition held councils being lost left, right and centre, one could be forgiven for not mentioning the USA. The home of the brave has been in full political swing as the long drawn process of the Republican primaries came to a predictable end. By December the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry had ended their chances of reaching the convention.
Herman Cain ended up ensued in a sex scandal, Rick Santorum’s anti gay marriage platform proved fatal and Ron Paul just didn’t pick up the votes. So we were faced with the conventions, first up was the Republicans were Mitt Romney won the nomination and Clint Eastwood spoke at an empty chair.
After the Obama Bashing RNC had finished it was the Democrats turn. So Obama and the DNC bigwigs put on a show full of Opera Winfrey and Taylor Swift, spent a few days bashing the Republicans, and began the race for a second term. Furthermore, Bill Clinton popped by to big up Barrack, which when coupled with Mitt Romney’s 47% speech at a $50k a plate fundraiser has really put the Democrats on course to win.
So what’s next? Well we have the party conference season which was kicked off by the Greens in Bristol, where Natalie Bennett was elected leader. Next up UKIP had their anti EU bash where Nigel Farage shouted a lot. We were then treated to Nick Clegg and his apology and shortly after the remix. In my opinion the remix has more chance of a vote than his party at the next election.
The remix led nicely to Brighton and the Liberal Democrat conference. This has been its usual bore fest, a strained Q&A with Nick seems to have been the highlight, not because its amusing watching Mr Clegg avoid the simplest of questions, but because the BBC camera crew spent the time finding party members doodling, looking slightly angry viewers or, my personal favourite, having a sleep in the back rows.
This year has already been very busy and doesn’t look like its going to slow down. The Labour confrence finished last week and Conservative conferences finishes today. Next up is the US Presidential election in early november. Even if you don’t like the debating and collection of poorly dressed middle aged men, I would urge you to pay attention over the coming months. If not for the politics, then the sheer entertainment.