Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (2024)

Ahead of the 2024 general election, we’ve taken a closer look at all the constituencies in our area.

Bristol South has been a stronghold for Labour since the 1930s, and is also one of the seats least affected by the boundary changes which have seen the electoral map of the West of England redrawn in time for the July 4 election.

Sitting Labour MP Karin Smyth is standing again to represent Bristol South, a constituency she has represented since 2015. Here is our guide to Bristol South.

Bristol South boundaries

The constituency should more accurately be called Bristol South West, because most of the eastern side of South Bristol is in the Bristol East constituency. Bristol South largely covers everything south of the river and west of the A37 Wells Road - and that includes Southville, Ashton Gate, Windmill Hill, Bedminster, Totterdown, Bedminster Down, Bishopsworth, Highridge, Knowle West, Hartcliffe, Hengrove and Withywood.

The only boundary that has moved this time around is to shift a large part of Knowle either side of the Wells Road into Bristol East instead, so now only the Filwood council ward part of Knowle West is still in Bristol South.

Previous voting habits

The list of Labour MPs who’ve represented Bristol South is long-remembered in the constituency. They tend to get elected and stay for years. In fact, Bristol South has had just four different MPs since 1945 - an astonishing 79 years. William Wilkins was the Labour MP here from 1945 to 1970. When he retired, Michael co*cks was elected from 1970 to 1987, and the Dawn Primarolo, elected in 1987, went from the tabloids’ ‘Red Dawn’ figure to a key player in the New Labour Government’s Treasury, before she retired in 2015. Karin Smyth has been the MP for nine years now.

At the last election in 2019, Karin Smyth was elected with just over 50 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the Conservative candidate in second place, the Lib Dems even further behind in third and the Green Party candidate, who only narrowly lost his deposit. That candidate, Tony Dyer, is now the Green Party’s first leader of Bristol City Council.

The 2024 election

The candidates at this election are:
Jai Breitnauer (Green)

Liz Brennan (Conservative)

Andrew Brown (Lib Dem)

Neil Norton (SDP)

Karin Smyth (Labour)

Richard Visick (Reform UK).

Analysis of the constituency

South Bristol is unusual in that it has elected local councillors from all four parties back in May, but it would be a huge shock if there was anything other than a Labour victory in this Labour stronghold.

In the more affluent Southville and Windmill Hill wards nearest the river, the Greens have four councillors - five including Bedminster’s single Green councillor. Labour dominate the post-war social housing estates of Knowle West, Hartcliffe and Withywood, while the Lib Dems are strong in the estates of Hengrove and Whitchurch Park. The Conservatives win elections in the more leafy areas of South Bristol, like Bishopsworth, and over in Stockwood.

But overall, Bristol South is a Labour stronghold. Around one in four people in the constituency live in social housing, and in areas like Hartcliffe, Withywood and Knowle West, there are some parts which are among the most socio-economically deprived areas in the country.

The NHS, welfare, transport and education are key issues in South Bristol - like the inequalities which see life expectancy ten years shorter in some areas of the constituency compared to in Bristol Central, or which see less than ten per cent of school leavers go on to university, while 100 per cent of 18-year-olds do in Clifton.

Who are the candidates?

Jai Breitnauer

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (1)

Jai, who lives in Ashton Vale, got into politics in part sparked by the long-running special education needs scandal in Bristol - she has children with special needs. She stood, unsuccessfully, to be a councillor in Filwood ward in May. The Greens will be hoping some of the ‘Green surge’ which saw them take effective control of City Hall in May will improve on their fourth-place position in 2019, particularly in the older Victorian streets of Southville, Bedminster, Totterdown, Windmill Hill and Victoria Park.

Liz Brennan

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (2)

A Tory councillor in South Gloucestershire - for Frenchay & Downend - she’s the Conservative’s deputy leader on the other side of the city. Liz studied at Bristol UWE and going on to work as a swimming teacher in local leisure centres before working with charities and becoming a dedicated campaigner for a life-saving drug for children with Cystic Fibrosis.

“My priorities are protecting our wonderful green spaces, backing our local schools, and investing in our health services throughout the community,” she said, listing better buses, proper road resurfacing and ‘keeping Bristol as the best city to live, work and raise a family’.

After she was selected, she got involved in the campaign sparked by the killing of Max Dixon and Mason Rist in Knowle West, arranging for Max’s mum Leanne and other campaigners to lobby the Conservative Government minister in Westminster.

Andrew Brown

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (3)

A familiar face in South Bristol politics - Andrew has been a Lib Dem councillor in Hengrove Park and Whitchurch for three years. “Andrew is standing for a fair deal for the South of Bristol - after years of having a Conservative government nationally, but a Labour MP and a Labour Council locally, people here know that this part of the city is being left behind with health services stretched to breaking point, large areas of deprivation and inequality, and a lack of investment in local public transport, youth clubs, schools, and our environment,” a Lib Dem spokesperson said.

“If elected, Andrew will work to tackle these issues so as to make a real difference to the lives of Bristol South constituents, as well as seeking to address national policy issues such as the need for urgent action on Climate Change, improving our relationship with the EU, and democratic reform.”

Neil Norton

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (4)

Neil describes himself as a Brummie born-and-bred. He lived in Weston-super-Mare for 11 years and moved to Hengrove in Bristol South a year ago. He stood for the SDP in Hengrove and Whitchurch Park - and was beaten by Andrew Brown - and stood for parliament in North Somerset in 2015 and 2019.

“As a local resident based in Hengrove; this is an area that has been neglected by both the local council and government, and offers true potential. I will represent the local community and listen to residents concerns,” he said.

“Bristol South has a lot of high crime, deprivation and sadly in recent over-development of alleged “affordable” housing, which is out of reach to many people. The state of Bedminster High Street is unbelievable. The local Green councillors have let their area become a glorified building site by building ridiculous student housing developments and turning buildings into HMOs often attracting undesirable people. Considering there are numerous homeless people and families in the city; why are students top priority? These are only temporary residents and will bring little to local communities,” he added.

Karin Smyth

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (5)

Karin Smyth worked for the NHS before becoming Labour MP for South Bristol in 2015.

“I want a fair society, where each one of us has equality of opportunity to fulfill our potential, supported by each other and by a democratic, accountable and responsive state,” she said. “Bristol South is one of the most economically deprived constituencies in the country with some parts in the 10% most deprived nationally. I want to use my experience, my skills, my political passion to fight on behalf of the people of Bristol South and build the fairer society I want to see for myself and my family, and for families across Bristol South.

“Before becoming an MP I worked in the NHS as a manager, most recently for the NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group. The NHS is my passion, and I am proud to be Labour's Shadow Health minister,” she added.

Richard Visick

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (6)

Most people’s reactions to Richard Visick’s name on the ballot paper focussed on the fact it said he lived in Gibraltar. On the Reform UK website, he said he is now a non-practising lawyer, but had worked as a ‘consultant solicitor’ for a leading Bristol-based law firm for nearly ten years.

“My legal expertise and hands on experience of the ups and downs of business will help me to boost new business in Bristol South and help those in my constituency fight back against bureaucracy,” he said. “I would like to see the constituents of Bristol South being able to influence immigration policy and immigrant hotels in their area.

“I have a keen interest in healthcare. I have purchased and managed residential care homes, including mental health care & invested in medical technology companies. My experience in this sector will help me to improve local healthcare services in Bristol South. I would also advocate for including alternative and complementary healing methods alongside NHS services,” he added.

Bristol South constituency guide for General Election 2024 (2024)

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