UK: Bristol Tories choose new mayor, after councillor ‘disturbed’ by Ian McKellen school visit withdraws

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Bristol’s Tory group has nominated another candidate for Lord Mayor, after councillor Chris Windows, who was embroiled in a homophobia row, removed himself from the running.

In 2010, Windows objected to gay actor McKellen visiting Bristol schools, saying: “I am unhappy and a little disturbed at the involvement of Stonewall in our local schools and particularly the use of a certain leading actor as a potential role model for our impressionable young people.”

It emerged in January that he had been nominated for the ceremonial post, which traditionally rotates through the parties unopposed.

Last month Windows decided to withdraw his candidacy, citing an “unpleasant and slanderous attack upon my character”.

According to the Bristol Post, Tory councillor Alastair Watson was this week chosen by the party to fill the position.

Tory leader Peter Abraham said: “I am delighted with our choice of nominee for Lord Mayor, a fitting choice in the year of Green Capital City.

“Together with his wife Sarah, Alastair has all the experience and personal qualities needed to make a success of this role. I am sure they will prove to be a very popular team.”

Watson said: “It is obviously a very great honour to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve the city in this special way.

“I still have to be re-elected by the good people of Westbury-on-Trym, but it would be a tremendous privilege to represent all of Bristol’s diverse and multi-cultural communities.

“I would hope to dedicate my term in office to the promotion of technology-based businesses – especially low carbon and renewable technologies – as this would coincide in part with our European Green Capital status.

“I also think it is important to engage with local businesses to develop initiatives aimed at providing skills and greater employment opportunities for all our young people.”