Metro Mayors: who will be waving the red flags in Manchester and Liverpool?
We are still some way off the elections for the new Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regional mayors, due to be held in May 2017, but it would not be unfair to suggest that the more important vote is already underway.
In the coming weeks Labour members in both cities will select the Labour Party’s candidate for Mayor. Both cities are Labour strongholds and it would be a surprise if either city failed to elect the candidate chosen in this preliminary vote, which closes on 5 August. Certainly, there are not yet any high calibre candidates from outside the Labour party declared.
In Manchester, the interim mayor Tony Lloyd leads the way with the backing of five council chiefs. However, a recent development has seen the backing of Ivan Lewis by the leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, who had previously claimed in relation to Mr Lewis that he “would take some convincing that twenty years in parliament was adequate preparation for the position of elected mayor”. We might surmise that this demonstrates Leese’s desire to prevent a Tony Lloyd victory, who he said “lacks the vision, drive and leadership to fulfil the role”.
Leese’s support takes Lewis’ tally up to three, while Andy Burnham lags behind with only Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, backing the MP for Leigh. Despite this, Burnham, who is perhaps the biggest name in the contest, remains confident. He believes that cabinet experience is needed to make a success of the role and hopes that this will give him an edge over the other candidates.
Along the M62 in Liverpool, Joe Anderson was expected to be the front-runner, having been elected City Mayor in 2012 and again in 2016. He remains the favourite but there are signs that Steve Rotheram, MP for Walton and key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, has narrowed the gap. Three phone polls were recently conducted by campaign teams within the Labour Party in which Mr Anderson was ahead in two, while Steve Rotheram led in the third. The final candidate, Luciana Berger MP, polls respectably but looks unlikely to pose a real threat. While it now appears a two horse race, it is clear when looking at the polls that it remains open with neither candidate able to obtain a clear advantage.
Barring a Leicester-City-style shock in May next year, the winners of the two contests will be responsible for shaping the post-Brexit political landscape of the two cities. Quite which two candidates it will be remains to be seen.