George Ferguson tipped to become Bristol's first elected mayor
ARCHITECT George Ferguson has emerged as the early favourite to become Bristol’s first elected mayor.
He is quoted by Ladbrokes at 2/1 while former Labour councillor Kelvin Blake is his nearest rival at 5/1.
Mr Ferguson, who is standing as an independent and launched his election campaign at a meeting earlier this week, said: “It’s slightly disappointing – I was hoping for longer odds at this stage; it’s hardly worth putting on a bet!
“Of course, when the Labour candidate is selected, the picture is bound to change, but I do expect to be their principal challenger, as it appears do they. There is a long way to go and I hope Bristol is spared too much politicking over the next six months.”
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Mr Blake, who is confined to a wheelchair after a motorbike accident six years ago, has been shortlisted with four other Labour members to become the party candidate. They are former Wansdyke MP Dan Norris (6/1); Labour leader Peter Hammond (6/1); former council leader Helen Holland (8/1); and party activist Marvin Rees (12/1).
They hold five of the six shortest odds because Ladbrokes believes a Labour candidate has the best chance of winning the election on November 15. Labour are quoted at 4/5 while the chances of an independent winning are given as 6/4.
The Liberal Democrats have yet to choose a candidate but Lib Dem council leader Simon Cook is given as 12/1. He has not yet indicated whether he will go for the job.
Former Lib Dem councillor Abdul Malik and Tory leader Peter Abraham are both quoted at 16/1. Mr Malik, a successful businessman from Easton is hoping to be the Lib Dem candidate but would otherwise probably stand as an independent.
Mr Abraham has yet to declare his intention to seek his party’s nomination.
It was reported yesterday the Lib Dems would not put forward a candidate at all, and instead tell people to vote for Mr Ferguson. But the Bristol party chair, Andy Morgan, dismissed the claims as rumour. “We haven’t even met to discuss it yet,” he told the Post. “There are quite a few options and that is remotely one of them but no decision has been taken. In any event, George Ferguson has stated that he would be an independent candidate.”
Ladbrokes also quote former Tory councillor Spud Murphy at 33/1, Respect Party candidate Paulette North at 50/1 and Banksy at 66/1.
Two outsiders are Craig Clarke, an independent, and Eric Mutch who is changing his name to Mr Corrupt Self-serving Lying B’stard, who are each offered at 200/1.
Matthew Shaddick, political odds compiler at Ladbrokes, said: “We are working on the basis that a Lib Dem or Tory win is probably unlikely in the current circumstances although Boris has shown that winning is possible with the right candidate.
“I imagine it’s going to be difficult for them (the Tories) to attract anyone high profile enough to make a difference, given that the chances of winning look slim.
“The Lib Dems’ local strength would normally have made them look a good bet but current national poll standings will put most people off.
“The Labour race looks very difficult to call and whoever wins that will probably become favourite, although George Ferguson does look a plausible alternative. Independents have won such contests in the past – Doncaster is a good example.
“And of course, there is still plenty of time for another non-party candidate to get involved. If anyone can tap into the general anti-politics mood of the times, they must have a chance.
“George Galloway managed it in Bradford, although I’m not sure if Mr Corrupt Self-seeking Lying B’stard is the man for the job.”
2/1 George Ferguson
5/1 Kelvin Blake
6/1 Dan Norris
6/1 Peter Hammond
8/1 Helen Holland
12/1 Marvin Rees
12/1 Simon Cook
16/1 Peter Abraham
16/1 Abdul Malik
33/1 Spud Murphy
50/1 Paulette North
200/1 Craig Clarke
200/1 Eric Mutch
8/1 Liberal Democrats