Greedy's now greenie!

The beared weirdo

Remember George “Greedy” Micklewright the personality-free Labour leader of Bristol City Council from 1997-2002? Probably not.

Micklewright, who assiduously marketed himself as a local government finance expert, actually presided over a crippling £350m budget deficit during his time in office. Although he was probably best known for his appearances with “business friends” in upmarket Bristol eateries and his personal backing for the millenium makeover of the Centre.

Widely loathed, this hideous, concrete OAP death trap was described by Micklewright and his supporters as “going to be like Barcelona” before it was built. Then when questioned on its un-Barcelona-like qualities after completion he helpfully explained that, “it had looked good in the pictures”.

Micklewright was sensationally booted out of office in 2002 when he managed to lose the ultra-safe Labour ward of Filwood after 23 years in office to a Liberal Democrat half-wit.

There then followed a Reggie Perrinesque decline in his fortunes as the Bristol Labour Party refused to select him for any ward anywhere in the city and the unemployed leader would be found shuffling around Asda Bedminster most days in his tatty rain mac muttering darkly of revenge…

Well folks, it looks like George is back and he’s going after the Bristol Labour Party as The Blogger learns that Micklewright is now ‘advising’ the Bristol Green Party.

Quite what advice he’s giving them should be very interesting. This is, after all, the original architect of the Bristol Airport expansion. The man that first sold the city council’s controlling interest in the airport to First Group then, realising how much money could be made, proceeded to flog the remainder to pay off the city’s debts. The rest, as they say, is history

Perhaps he’s advising The Greens on electoral campaigning then? For their sake hopefully not. He had such a safe Labour seat he’s never actually done a day’s campaigning in his life. And when called upon to run a proper election campaign in 2002 he was hammered!

It’s actually quite hard to figure out who this is most embarrassing for. Is it the Bristol Labour Party learning their former leader now thinks a bunch of liberal hippies with a political programme based around a city-wide breast-feeding strategy and a campaign for real nappies is a credible alternative to them?

Or is it the Bristol Green Party, so utterly clueless and ill-advised, they have to resort to obtaining advice from some dodgy old political has-been with a very dubious record?

Roll on elections!

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14 Responses to Greedy's now greenie!

  1. Pingback: Anarcho traffic management: is it the future? « The Bristol Blogger

  2. Al Shaw says:




    Good piece. Finely executed.

  3. George Micklewright says:

    Facts are a bit weak here too. There was no such financial deficit – ever. I have no ‘business friends’ (never have) and eating out is not one of my pastimes. I had no involvement in the decision on the Centre – it was taken by the council’s Planning Committee. I was not a member of that committee and I was not leader of the council at that time – I was not consulted.
    I haven’t worn a rain mac in years – tatty or not – and I am deeply grateful to the voters of Knowle West for getting me out of a fix.
    True, out of misguided loyalty ( I had been a LP member for a mere 32 years) I did offer my services again in Southville (nowhere else) the following year – thank goodness they had already fixed it up for somebody else.
    I have never ‘advised’ the Green Party. I have been a GP member for four years and I do some of the things that party members do.
    The 1992 election in Knowle West had little to do with my competence or otherwise. The LibDems wanted the scalp of the Bristol council leader and they spent a lot of money to make sure they got it. It happens that I worked very hard that year (I usually did), but I was outnumbered and outspent.
    The airport sale is not so straightforward for me now as my views on air travel have changed since that time. But back then major investment in the airport was blocked by government spending controls. My view at the time was that there was no alternative to selling it.

  4. BristleKRS says:

    I believe this is called rapid rebuttal.


    The “1992 election”?

  5. Chris Hutt says:

    Credit to George M for having the courage to come on here and “put the record straight”.

  6. M W says:

    If you call this “redwash” putting the record straight! As if George has never had any “business friends”. Ha!…

    But to be fair it was really Helen Holland who came up with the butchery of the city centre. The planning committee just passed the plans – they dont come up with them.

    As for Labour being “outspent” by anyone in the early 2000’s when they were awash with money, least of all by the Lib Dems, that is just comical.

  7. Gary Hopkins says:

    Absolutely true that Lib Dems wanted to remove George Mickleright but the fact that his replacement as leader ,Diane Bunyon was beaten by us the year after was because we had all the ingredients in place ,including a very strong local candidate,to win.We were not targeting Labour leaders as such.
    George was not outspent but he was outnumbered and we found it amazing that there were more Labour canvassers next door in Knowle than there were in Filwood(Knowle West).Whether this was down to internal Labour politics or because they thought they had no chance is open to question.It looked like his party abandoned him.
    The planning committee excuse quite frankly explains why so many people are sceptical about politicians. Unfortunately we all get tarred with the same brush.A planning committee does not initiate a city center plan . That took the administration, that he was head of, and their officers. A collaboration of special genius.

  8. George Micklewright says:

    Sorry – meant 2002 not 1992. MW has a strange idea about ward elections in Filwood. There was no Labour Party money – the local councillors had to pay for it all themselves. The LibDems had a national strategy of picking off Labour council leaders, and they put national money in to do it. They did the same to Di Bunyan the following year. I was still not leader of the council when the changes to the Centre were agreed. The council’s planning officers prepared the scheme and obtained government money to pay for it. The planning committee agreed it. It was not brought to the full Labour Group for decision. As I recall Helen Holland was vice-chair of the planning committee at the time. All this is on the official record.

  9. Gary Hopkins says:

    What an amazing contribution from Mr Micklewright.
    Let me repeat,as the person who organised the campaignfor the Liberal Democrats both in Filwood and Windmill hill wards ,and elsewhere,that we were putting in extra effort to unseat Cllr Micklewright but that Cllr Bunyan was unseated because the seat was suitable for us because of the mix of residents,the quality of the candidate that was available to us and a list of local factors.
    All strategy decisions are made in Bristol and although it might suit Mr Mickleright’s ego to suggest that he was the victim of some grand national conspiracy we put effort into unseating him because we judged that he was bad for the area and bad for Bristol and that of course we had a chance to win.
    The city centre assertions are staggering.
    People elect Cllrs. to represent them.On ward and city wide issues we should be the peoples representatives,using our judgement to steer things in the right direction.
    If Cllrs lack ideas and positive plans themselves then officers take over completely. If the advice of officers is not questioned who is representing the people? Officers may be of high quality ,they may not be but what is undoubtedly the case is that they are not directly accountable to the electorate.
    It is not the job of Cllrs to micro manage every detail but on such an important issue as the way our city centre looks and functions it beggars belief that the administration would not have a very large input.
    It is difficuilt to know whether it is more worrying if the assertion that the city centre was fashioned by the availability of a government grant and that the then elected leaders had no say,is true or not.
    I think this illustrates why we were keen to unseat Mr Mickleright and why Bristol City Council performed so poorly for so many years and still does so in many areas.

  10. George Micklewright says:

    I was as interested as everybody else in the magic money. As far as I know, the Labour Group has no income apart from membership subscriptions paid by its members – the Labour councillors. It is rare for it to have more than about £1000 in the bank. This is used for incidental Labour Group expenses (stationery and stuff like that). We also used to buy the odd leaflet for branch parties who faced difficult elections with little cash. Clearly the Labour Group account was used as a conduit.

    On the other matter, it is well established that for a number of years the LibDems employed a national tactic they called ‘decapitation’, to try to destabilise ruling party groups on targeted councils up and down the country by ejecting their leaders. I can’t remember all the details now, but they made it work in Oldham, Sheffield and a number of other places as well as Bristol. The trick was to pick the councils with relatively low profile leaders, and then spend the money necessary. It wasn’t difficult if you had the cash.

  11. BristolPatriot says:

    Well,Well,Well. Thats quite a statement Mr.Micklewright:
    “The trick was to pick the councils with relatively low profile leaders, and then spend the money necessary. It wasn’t difficult if you had the cash.”
    It should have been damned near impossible if the Councillors were any good.Surely?
    Conversely,Some respect for actually coming on here to speak up for yourself

  12. Chris Hutt says:

    And it’s admirable that he can look back with some detachment on what must have been quite gut wrenching at the time. That takes time, that does.

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