By Harry Mottram: An independent on Independence Day is how it could be billed as Independent Councillor Colin Blackburn (pictured) for Westmoreland in Bath has made a pitch for the top job of Bath’s Member of Parliament. He shares the ward with his colleague Independent Councillor June Player and together they were returned by the voters in the last local elections for the area that covers the streets around Moorland Road nestling between Moorlands, Twerton and Oldfield Park. 

He’s not the only Independent who has put his papers in today (Friday 7 June) to stand for parliament on July 4th to be the next Bath MP – Bill Blockhead is a comedy candidate and he has entered the fray as a humorous alternative. However to find out who he really is turns into a wild goose chase as the best we can do is to say he is a political satirist similar to The Monster Raving Looney Party with policies that includes leave the solar system by 2028.

James Wright

Colin Blackburn is a serious candidate who works within the local community (together with June Player) has ensured he has raised the issues of student accommodation, litter and dog mess, plus dropped kerbs and anti-social behaviour. If successful on July 4th though it is problems of supplying weapons to Israel, the dangers of the Ukraine War spilling into Estonia and the UK’s struggling economy that may tax him.

Wera Hobhouse

His entry at the last minute before applications to stand end makes the contest a seven way fight. The election is seen as the Liberal Democrats Wera Hobhouse to lose as she had a large majority and a high profile local profile. She has asked a number of questions in parliament, championed women and girls rights in parliament and is a familiar face locally supporting community groups and charities in Bath. Traditionally Bath has flipped between the Lib Dems and the Tories so the entry of James Wright for the Conservatives means the Somerset farmer will be seen by pundits as the pretender to the prize of a seat in parliament that can be traced back to the 13th century. Nationally the Conservatives’ stock is at a 1906 low – but things can change in a campaign and local issues often cut through compared to national ones.

Dan Bewley

Labour’s Dan Bewley will be hoping to increase their share of the vote but pundits suggest he is the outsider in the election and will do well to come a good third. Older Bathonians will recall when Bath had several Labour Councillors and will point to Labour’s Clare Moody winning the recent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election and also Labour are now the official opposition on the Council after local elections.

Theresa Hall

The new kid on the block is Reform’s Theresa Hall – or perhaps not so new as the ‘party’ (a limited company) are essentially UKIP 0.2. That maybe unfair as Reform offer post Brexit policies about immigration and boosting defence but is still dominated by Nigel Farage who is standing in an Essex constituency.

Dom Tristram

Dominic Tristram for the Green Party must feel he has a chance of making an impact as the Greens are riding high in Bristol with real power there and are strong in Bath with three councillors including the high profile representatives in Saskia Heijltjes and Joanna Wright.

So back to our headline and the two independents – British people are often said that they have a sense of humour and take the Mickey out of politicians and so Bill Blockhead continues in that vein.

Not wishing to down play Bill but Colin Blackburn as a local councillor is well known in Westmoreland: so does he have a chance? Clearly he feels he does – but as an alternative to the four main political parties (or should I say five) as an Independent he offers a very Bath-centric option. How all of these permutations will work out we must wait for the count on July 5th when Wera Hobhouse will find out if she remains the MP for Bath or one of the six pretenders has usurped her.

The candidates in alphabetical order:

Dan Bewley, Labour

Colin Blackburn, Independent

Bill Blockhead, Independent

Theras Hall, Reform Party

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat

Dominic Tristram, Green Party

James Wright, Conservative

The General Election is on Thursday 4th July, 2024

At the last election the results were:

Wera HobhouseLiberal Democrat28,41954.5%7.2%
Annabel TallConservative16,09730.9%-4.9%
Mike DaviesLabour6,63912.7%-1.9%
Jimi OgunnusiThe Brexit Party6421.2%1.2%
Bill BlockheadIndependent3410.7%0.7%
Majority 12,322