Bristol Labour: Oxbridging the divide

Trinity College, Cambridge

In a quite magical display of English usage, The Evening Cancer announced yesterday: “A former Bristol city councillor, who was paralysed from the waist down after a motorbike accident, has failed in his bid to stand for election as an MP.”

Instead Bristol North West Labour Constituency Party members have opted for the charms of Sam Townend who coyly tells the local press he’s “a lawyer from Hackney”.

Leaving aside the fact that according to the Labour Party nobody in Bristol is up to the job of representing the city in Westminster, for some reason Sam is not being entirely honest about his background here.

This ever so ‘umble lawyer from Hackney – perhaps earning a small crust from legal aid work for the downtrodden citizens of the UK’s poorest borough? – is no such fucking thing. He’s actually a – wait for it – Cambridge educated barrister, specialising in corporate law, living in the rather more charming and upmarket environs of Southwark!

Although despite his expensive education, Sam doesn’t seem to be too sure where he actually lives at the moment. On his crappy little Bristol North West campaign website he seems to be suggesting he lives in Henleaze, which is one helluva commute every day to his barristers’ chambers in the Temple district of the City of London.

No doubt the fact he has “established a home” in Bristol will come as good news to his constituents in Princes Ward, Lambeth where he’s supposed to have been representing them as a councillor for the last year. And no doubt too they’ll be over the moon to learn that Sam’s so committed to the interests of Princes Ward and Lambeth that he spent the recent local elections campaigning in Bristol for them!

Of course any suggestion that Sam might be another dodgy carpetbagging Labour lawyer out for himself is entirely preposterous. There’s no evidence at all here to suggest that if he’s elected in Bristol he’d spend all his time in London focusing on his career in Westminster is there? You need only look at Bristol East’s Labour lawyer, Kerry McCarthy, to know that would never happen. Ever.

As for the long-suffering residents of Avonmouth, Lawrence Weston and Southmead what hope is there for them? Their choice for elected representatives at the next election is currently between career politician Charlotte Leslie, 29, MA Classics, Balliol College, Oxford or career politician Samuel Townend, 31, MA History, Trinity College, Cambridge.

What’s the difference? Both are posh, rich, live and work in London and both share the innate belief along with their respective parties – inculcated at their privileged and elitist Oxbridge colleges – that they have some divine right to rule over us.

Don’t let ’em!

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14 Responses to Bristol Labour: Oxbridging the divide

  1. Chip on your shoulder? says:

    I was at Cambridge with Sam. I went to a comprehensive school as did a huge number of our fellow students. I can’t remember where Sam went to school but he by no means comes from a “toff” background – his dad is a manual worker. Going to Cambridge is something you earn by working hard at school – it may be pretty pleasant when you get there but it’s not privilege that gets you in. The days of going because your dad went there are very long gone. Frankly, getting selected for a parliamentary seat is hard hard work and not something that your average idle toff would ever consider. What Cambridge teaches you is that anything is possible if you make the effort – why is that a bad thing? If you don’t want Sam, who is bright, committed and hard working, as your MP then fine, but find a more sustainable argument against him.

  2. Truth Seeker says:

    Sam Townend is a nasty piece of work.. He was one of the Labour candidates who ran a vicious homophobic smear campaign against gay Cllr Charles Anglin in Lambeth last year.. If you do a web search for Charles Anglin you will find loads of links with the stories telling how the Labour activists found Anglin’s Gaydar profile and sensationalised it in their leaflets and the press in order to smear him and pick up the fundie christian vote. Do a search for Townend and you’ll see he was one of the 3 Lab candidates who won in the same ward. What you wont find on the internet are the anonymous election leaflets (produced by a Labour member) that really went for the throat. But you’re a good investigator, I’m sure you can find elsewhere.
    Townend doesnt mention that the “record” 31% swing he got was on the back of this hate campaign, which Peter Tatchell himself condemned. No doubt he also hasnt mentioned to his voters in Lambeth that he has promised Bristol North West Labour that he will be a “full time candidate”. Makes you wonder how he’ll manage to be both a Councillor (which he says is “very demanding”) and lawyer in his spare time really doesnt it.. especially as he is a deputy Cabinet Member in the council and takes an extra wad of cash because of that..

  3. thebristolblogger says:

    I went to a comprehensive school as did a huge number of our fellow students

    With only 55.7 per cent of students coming from the maintained sector, Cambridge has one of the lowest admission rates of state-educated pupils in the country. But last year Oxford matched it, accepting only 54.2 per cent from state schools.

  4. Jess B says:

    Tthat lambeth local election was a very dirty one it set the new low mark in london elections which are often dirty anyway.

    some links
    “Gay councillor loses seat after alleged homophobic campaign by Labour”

    “Local Labour group accused of “using homophobia to win votes””

    “Gay groups question Lambeth councillor revelation”

    The paper that led the “expose” got an “anonymous tip off”; labour then lapped up the story and promoted it. but the labour website had details from the Gaydar profile that were quicly removed BEFORE the press got to it, so they had miraculously got to the profile before the press that they said they were “just reporting”. A little suspicious, no?

  5. S F says:

    Well well well. Who’d have thought that Mr sweet and innocent came with so much baggage! I see from the E Pest that recriminations are already flying over the selection, with ex councillor Massey and his wife hitting out at the Pest (and obliquely at Kelvin Blake) over its backing of ex councillor Kelvin Blake. I wonder if the Masseys knew of Townend’s history?

    What makes it even more interesting is that the new Bris northwest is a 3-way marginal with the Lib Dems not far behind, and nearly half of the voters in the new constituency are currently represented by… the Lib Dems first gay MP, Stephen Williams! I bet Williams wont be pleased to see someone with the campaigning history of Townend operating on his patch!

  6. Ginger says:

    “he Lib Dems first gay MP, Stephen Williams! I bet Williams wont be pleased to see someone with the campaigning history of Townend operating on his patch”

    the same Stephen Williams ready to defend Simon Hughes and the Liberals homophobic campaign in 1982?

  7. S F says:

    Eh? Williams must have been about 12 in 1982!

    The Libdems have selected a guy called Paul Harrod to fight Bris NW, who apparently works for Bristol University.

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  10. Lambeth Resident. says:

    How very interesting.

    This laddie is a lawyer: a member of the Bar Council.

    Article 2.01.(b) of the Constitution of the London Borough of Lambeth, where he currently sits on the Council, provides that:

    “Only registered voters of the London Borough of Lambeth. . . will be eligible to hold the Office of Councillor.”

    Rule 2. 2. A. 6 of the Labour Party Rule Book provides that

    “To be and remain eligible for membership, each individual member must . . . be a member of (the Constituency Labour Party) . . . for the address where she or he resides and is registered as an elector unless having moved since the registration qualifying date, temporarily resident abroad or otherwise prevented from being registered, in which case she or he must be resident within that constituency”

    Sam is, according to his own admission posted on his website, a Council Member in the London Borough of Lambeth, and Vice Chair of the Henleaze Branch of the Labour Party.

    Bristol North West might be well advised to deselect this candidate.

  11. S F says:

    Yes it’s a bit odd – you cant just be a member of another constituency because you want to or because some branch wants you to be, otherwise people would pack out memberships in order to win selection votes.

    Having said that, geeky constitutional stuff probably only matters to internal Labour squabbles…of which we know there were many, viz Kelvin Blake.

  12. GAY LAW says:

    Yes, SF, I know that what Lambeth Resident says is a bit technical, and maybe of more interest to members of his own Party. But, don’t forget that Mr. Townend is selling himself as a senior member of his Party – a Labour Councillor in a Central London Borough – and as an experienced barrister, who should be expected to have read and understood the Rules.

    It is a matter of integrity and judgment. Rules are Rules. One cannot bend them to suit oneself.

    From what Jess B. says he fought a dirty battle to get himself elected in Lambeth. Straight or Gay, do we want that sort of person representing us in Bristol ?

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  14. casual web surfer says:

    Bristol should find a local candidate or they will get what nulaba give them-a clever,talented lawyer with their eye on a career, voting to build up a reputation for loyalty in order to seek promotion. This nulaba MP will work tirelessly for the constituency, maybe even buy a home in the town sp they can patronise and condescend their constituents every weekend before networking all week in westminster. Then you will slowly realise what some of us have to put up with in other parts of the country where our representative votes for war in iraq,ID cards, privatisation, No EU referendum, mass unregulated immigration, devolution, trust schools, expanding trident, higher community taxes-in fact the whole nulaba TBlair/BROwn thatcherite ++++++++and the three bears.

    Pick a local candidate Bristol-u know it makes sense

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