Will a Liverpool City Region Mayor represent Merseyside?
It has long been known that Joe Anderson will be gunning for the job of the Liverpool City Region metro mayor, but now Labour MP Luciana Berger looks to be throwing her hat in to the ring, soon to be followed by fellow MP Steve Rotheram. Of course, as the region’s name suggests, Liverpool will be the central hub for the new Mayor, but with concern across Merseyside about an elected Mayor already, will two more Liverpool-based MPs eyeing up the position exacerbate this concern?
Nominations to the become Labour’s candidate open on Monday (23 May), with the winner expected to be announced before the party’s conference in September and, given the dominance of the Labour Group across the region, the winner is likely to be the first City Region Mayor. It is thought that Joe Anderson, having been re-elected as Liverpool Mayor just two weeks ago, will get his campaign started early. After playing a key role in getting the devolution deal from the Government which included the plans for an elected mayor across the whole city region, Mr Anderson will fancy his chances for the nomination. With regards to the other two potential candidates at this stage, Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, who was accused of being ‘parachuted in’ from London, will certainly be waving what could be called ‘Blairite’ flag. Walton MP Steve Rotheram, on the other hand, a born-and-bred Liverpudlian, is very close to the now Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, currently serving as his Parliamentary Private Secretary.
There is certainly no love-lost between the three, with both Joe Anderson and Steve Rotheram being vocal critics of Luciana Berger when she was shipped up from the capital. At the time, she was put under a lot of pressure, for example, for not knowing who Bill Shankly was or who wrote “Ferry Cross the Mersey” – things that should be quite obvious to those across Merseyside.
The three candidates should provide voters with a choice of across the political spectrum of the Labour Party, but a bitter campaign from all sides could leave a sour taste in the mouths of local party members. Furthermore, whether any of these candiates will be able to appeal to all councils across Merseyside and Halton is a major factor, with the Leader of Wirral Council, Phil Davies, and the Wirral South MP, Alison McGovern, both distancing themselves from the fray.
The concern from other councils across the region over the devolution deal was that Liverpool would gain the most, at the expense of other areas. Having three Liverpool-heavy Labour candidates fight it out for the nomination could, in the short term, make public splits at the local level very visible, and in the long run it may lead to more friction with other Merseyside councils and undermine the devolution agenda. With Merseyside already behind its rival Greater Manchester in devolution terms, it can’t afford any further setbacks.