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Hello! I’m standing for election!

Since 2019 I’ve been a councillor on Upton-by-Chester & District Parish Council, elected with a tiny seven (7 !) vote majority in the Heath ward. I haven’t let my local political affiliations get in the way of my national analyses for both the New Statesman and Britain Elects. But in 2023, I will be making a second step. I will be stepping down as parish councillor for the Heath ward to instead compete for Chester’s City & Garden Quarter on Cheshire West Council. For those unaware of the boundaries, that’s Chester’s walled city centre, plus the neighbourhoods from the railway station to the River Dee, and from the Waitrose to the Morrisons.

I’ve lived in and around the ward for well over six years now, first as a student, and then as an occasionally penniless “young professional”. I’ve served as one of Chester’s Roman Tour Guides, donning the skirt armour and marching about being paid to shout at kids – unquestionably one of the best jobs of my life. In that time I grew confident in myself and grew to know what it means to feel a sense of pride and belonging in your city. Everyone that lives in Chester, be it in Boughton, the Garden Quarter, Newtown, or elsewhere – they should all feel that: yes, this is my city, and that: yes, I feel like I can make my voice heard here. Good quality homes, inclusive and aesthetically pleasing streets, and well-supported local businesses and communities are some of the many factors which contribute to that oft hard-to-grasp feeling of identity and belonging. Chester’s lucky with its heritage, and its thriving independent business scene. But it has its fair share of problems, too – problems that shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet, or overlooked as a mere nuisance to be solved by someone else. If elected, listening to residents, conveying their thoughts, and ensuring all modes of support are available, if needed, will be my drive as a councillor.

I don’t come from a “Labour family”. My parents don’t usually vote, and when they do, it’s not often for the so-called establishment palatable parties. I come from a family where politics is a nuisance, a distraction to those just wanting to get by. I want to get “into politics” because I want those families to feel like, if they want to engage, they can, and will. They shouldn’t be left behind.

I won’t promise jam tomorrow, or mollycoddle that everything will be done on day one. That’s not fair, nor is that the type of person that I am. The only thing I promise will be my effort.

My name is Ben Walker, and I am one of three Labour candidates for Chester City & The Garden Quarter ward. See you on May 4th be with you, 2023.

Data Journalist

I didn’t finish university, but long before I even started at the Uni of Chester I co-founded Britain Elects – a site set up initially to cover the ever present but oft unreported council by-elections held across Great Britain. Now while that might not seem important, I recognised there was an interested body of nerds online looking for a singular place to cover it. Britain Elects now however covers an all manner of things, from public opinion polls to election forecasting. I grew to analyse social attitudes when working for a political campaign as a communications officer. I then went on to become a political consultant in late 2015, and I have since advised candidates and campaigns on message discipline, message promotion, and voter targeting. When it comes to electioneering, public opinion analysis and election forecasting – everything I have done is self taught. I don’t have a degree to my name, but I have experience and results.

Eventually, in 2016, I moved to Chester to start at university, two years after finishing sixth form in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

I use all this experience in my work for the New Statesman. I started there as a data journalist in 2020, one month before the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown. I have written extensively on attitudes in Europe and America, building a successful forecast model for the US presidential election and leading on some of the most in-depth UK local election coverage any major publication has ever done.

In 2022 I launched State of the Nation under the New Statesman brand – an off-shoot site to the magazine which zones in on illustrating the state of the UK in data-form, whether it’s NHS waiting times, youth unemployment, house prices or – indeed, the comfort eating of my job: a national election forecast.

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