Marvin Rees wins Bristol Mayoral nomination


Once again Marvin Rees is on the threshold of making history, having won the nomination to stand as the Labour Party mayoral candidate in Bristol next year. If he wins he’ll become the first directly elected African/Caribbean mayor of a major city in Europe. On the same day Sadiq Khan or Syed Kamall could also become London’s mayor.

For Marvin Rees, this is a true story of tenacity, inner strength and determination to win against the odds. Many would argue that this indeed is the Black experience in the UK.

In 2012, Rees narrowly lost out to the sitting Independent Mayor George Ferguson. He was bitterly disappointed not least because of the attempted smearing of his character, but instead of complaining he set about to understand what he could have done better, and prepare to run again. After that defeat, I recall one conversation with Rees in which I reminded him that Obama failed in his first attempt to become a Congressman, before going on to win election to the highest office in the US.

On hearing the news that Mervin Rees won the nomination in Bristol, newly elected leader Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to support him with all his might.

Of course OBV is extremely proud of Marvin, who is one of our MP shadowing alumni . We are also proud of other star alumni including Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Helen Grant and Clive Lewis. This time we hope Marvin can make history and in doing so drive forward a positive agenda for racial and social justice, desperately needed in Bristol which recently had one the biggest rises of racial attacks and abuse in the country.

The simple truth is that if we want more Black people in politics, we’ve got to support those like Marvin who blaze these trails. In return they must have clear ideas how they can defeat racism and unleash all the talent within Bristol for the benefit of the greater good.

Good luck Marvin, we hope you do it this time round.

Our thanks to Carol Williams for pointing out that her father James (Jim) Williams was appointed Lord Mayor of Bristol in 1990, thus becoming the City's first Afro-Caribbean Mayor. Our piece on Marvin Rees refered to directly elected executive mayors, but nevertheless we should have made reference to Jim Williams, who was an outstanding local elected member for the Ashley Ward and who worked tirelessly to improve living conditions and employment prospects for Black people in the City during his long time in public life.

He was a member of a number of Bristol Council Committees including the Employment and Community Development Committee, and was Chair of the Race Equality Committee. His community involvement included being a member of the Executive for the Bristol Council for Racial Equality and a committee member of St. Paul’s Community Council. He was also a Justice of the Peace.

Simon Woolley