‘Green’s my favourite colour’: What do Bristol Uni students think of recent election results

We investigated why Bristol students backed Green, taking many seats which were previously held by Labour


Last week in the local council elections, the Green Party won the most seats in Bristol. The Bristol Tab asks students for their thoughts.

When asked on our Instagram, 53% of students said they voted Green in elections on May 2nd. Five common themes came up when we asked students why they voted Green: rent controls, disappointment with Labour, stance on Palestine, minimum wage and public transport.

Rent

During the Bristol rent strikes, the Green Party were supportive of student demand for fairer rent. The current co-leader and Bristol councillor Carla Denyer even helped paint the famous ‘fair rent now’ sign on the side of the M32. For years a reoccurring theme amongst Bristol Uni students is the price of rent. The Green Party in Bristol have been in favour of rent controls and increasing the number of affordable homes in Bristol.

Student properties have been alleged to be riddled with mould, energy inefficient and overpriced. The housing hunt season is one of the most feared by Bristol Uni students, a vicious fight to get a property you can afford, with people you like and in a suitable area.

The housing crisis doesn’t end when you graduate, with the council reporting that “Bristol residents now need almost nine times their annual salary to buy a house.” And Shelter finding poor renting conditions, and rising unregulated costs. This means to many students that living in the city they call home after they graduate is near impossible.

Green are perhaps providing a glimmer of hope for change, with housing at the forefront of their policies.

Let down by Labour

“Feel like shit, just want old labour back” was the sentiment expressed by one Bristol student. Labour usually dominates the student vote nationally, this election shows how Bristol Uni students are dissatisfied with the party. Another student claimed: “12 years of a labour mayor was so bad we got rid of the position.” This is a comment about Bristol voting to abolish the mayor in 2022 in favour of a committee-led approach.

Students felt Labour has let them down with austerity, a lax attitude on climate change, and by “engaging in a culture war against the most vulnerable people.” Labour’s recent policies and attitudes have disillusioned students, causing them to go Green.

Students felt Labour has let them down with austerity, a lax attitude on climate change, and by “engaging in a culture war against the most vulnerable people.” Labour’s recent policies and attitudes have disillusioned students, causing them to go Green.

Stance on Palestine

Recently, the university campus has been political, with a series of pro-Palestine protests. This includes an ongoing encampment in Royal Fort Gardens joining students across the country in solidarity with Palestine. With the Greens’ strong stand for a ceasefire in Gaza, it begs the question of how this affected the student vote.

Bristol students told The Tab they voted for Green as “the only party that hasn’t disappointed me on Palestine” and “not complicit in genocide. “The Greens called for an immediate ceasefire in October of last year being the only national party to do so.

The local government’s repose and attitude towards the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is very important to Bristol students.

Minimum wage

One student told The Bristol Tab they voted for green as they “support a £15 minimum wage.”

At present, if you’re under 21 companies can pay you £8.90 an hour, which is over £2 less than the national living wage. This combined with the rising cost of living and extortionate rent prices, leaves many Bristol students in a tight position.

The national Green Party has pledged to increase the minimum wage to £15 an hour. While this is beyond the mandate of Bristol City Council, the vote highlights student’s wider frustrations with governmental policy.

Transport

Anyone who has spent 10 minutes trying to park a tier or waited 30 mins for the bus to never come will know that transport in Bristol is often not much to be desired. One student expressed their desire for the council to “bring back trams.” While trams and funicular railways are not part of the Green Manifesto, they do claim they will half bus fares for under-21s.

They want to improve the existing transport links so that your ice cream doesn’t melt waiting for the bus home after your Clifton Down Sainsbury’s shop. They aim to increase cycle lanes and invest In sustainable and cheap public transport across Bristol so your 9am training in Coombe Dingle is an easier feat.

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