When the results of the 2015 election came flooding in, Bristol stuck out of the South-Western map like a sore thumb. Surrounded by a sea of Conservative blue in all directions, our city stood out as one of the last remaining strongholds of progressive, left-wing politics for miles around. Everybody gave themselves a puffed up pat on the back, taking solace in the belief that we, at least, had done our best.
And then it came to the EU referendum. Again, Bristol voted in favour of unity and collectivism, whilst – again – the rest of our country turned its back. Once again we were given concrete evidence of Bristol’s commitment to forward thinking politics, but – again – the results came with a bitter taste.
Now, as more data follows, an increasingly complex image is arising. Whilst some areas of Bristol saw Remain votes reach heights of 86%, many areas to the South and West of the city saw results tip dramatically in favour of Leave, with Remain votes dipping to lows of 33%. Whilst the overall image of Bristol is one of left-wing liberalism, the detailed picture is one of intense division.
The post-referendum message is clear: although Bristol has a global reputation for diversity and liberalism, these are not sentiments shared by all, and these are not assets that we can continue to take for granted. With local Police reporting an increase in racially motivated hate crimes since the vote, it is clear that more needs to be done to show support towards those who feel marginalised and threatened within the local community.
Luckily, the coming months will see a number of landmark events springing up to help tackle these issues.
At the end of the month (30th July), Bristol dance institutions Peng Sound and Falling Up will join forces for an all-day, all-night party at the Kuumba Centre in St Pauls. The line-up features “talented musicians and selectors from all corners of this planet”, including Ishan Sound, Rezzett, October, Jabu, Tapes and more; according to the organisers: “unity is the only way forward in this world, and music should always provide a platform for togetherness.”
In addition to this, a second large-scale collaborative event is being planned by a number of Bristol’s best-loved musicians and promoters for later on in the summer – again, with the aim of promoting solidarity and unity in a city that can no longer take these qualities for granted. Full details are yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for more info.
In addition, the coming weeks will see a number of anti-racism, anti-fascism and pro-EU rallies taking place across the city, including a ‘Bristol Stays’ march on 14th July. Keep an eye out on social media for more info.