Despite the controversial scrapping of its all-female mayoral shortlist, the city’s Labour councillors voted against a motion to revert back to a leader and cabinet model at an emergency meeting on Saturday.
The motion to abolish Liverpool City Council’s mayoral model was voted down by 39 votes to 20, which means May’s election will go ahead as planned, but a referendum on the issue is to be held in 2023.
It is understood that the motion was voted down due to concerns that the move would leave the party open to legal action as it had already voted against a motion from the Liberal Democrats to switch models in January.
The motion to scrap the role of mayor, held by Joe Anderson since 2012 until his arrest as part of Operation Aloft last December, was tabled by Cllrs Patrick Hurley and Laura Robertson-Collins in the aftermath of the decision by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee to restart the process of selecting a mayoral candidate for the city.
A three-person shortlist made up of interim mayor Wendy Simon, former deputy mayor Ann O’Byrne, and lord mayor Anna Rothery, was controversially scrapped by the NEC earlier this month and the trio were told last week they could not reapply.
Theories about why the women have been removed from consideration have circulated online since the announcement, and several commentators, including former shadow cabinet ministers Diane Abbott and John McDonnell, have suggested the process was restarted to prevent socialist-leaning Rothery from winning.
Abbott labelled the decision an “Appalling abuse of party democracy”, while McDonnell questioned the party’s motives, adding: “This fiasco leaves the Labour bureaucracy wide open to charges of sheer incompetence or a political stitch-up or both.”
The search for a fresh batch of Labour candidates is ongoing, however, some commentators predict that recent reputational damage suffered by the Labour Party in Liverpool could leave the door open for an independent candidate to become mayor.