Labour candidates announced in the North West mayoral contests
On Tuesday lunchtime it was announced from MediaCityUK that the Labour candidate for the 2017 Greater Manchester mayoral election will be Andy Burnham MP. The current shadow Home Secretary has been a leading light in the Labour Party, serving in every leader’s cabinet (or shadow cabinet) since Tony Blair. However, given the current in-fighting in the Party, Mr Burnham may be glad to have something else to focus his efforts on, and there is no shortage of things being demanded from Manchester.
In Liverpool the selection for Labour’s mayoral candidate for the ‘Merseyside Mayor’ (oops! Liverpool City Region Metro-Mayor) was also announced with one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies, Steve Rotheram, beating challengers Joe Anderson (Liverpool City Council’s current mayor) and Luciana Berger (MP for Liverpool Wavertree) in the race.
Both these selections can be seen as a boost for the Labour leadership in Westminster; Steve Rotheram is a key member of Jeremy Corbyn’s team whilst Andy Burnham has been vocal (although less enthusiastically) in his support for the embattled Labour leader. Whether the victories of both mayoral candidates is evidence that Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn’s extreme left-wing campaign movement, is truly gaining influence in local selections remains to be seen, this could set a precedent that support from the grass-roots movement can go a long way in securing top positions within the Labour hierarchy.
As highlighted last week, Manchester’s top business leaders want the government to commit to invest in infrastructure across the region. Mr Burnham has said throughout his campaign that he wants to see Manchester receive its fair share of government investment, including maintaining the level of investment which it received in structural funds from the EU. With the Liverpool City Region also championing its own HS2 rail link, alongside better connectivity, it seems that both regions will have leaders who may end up fighting over the same pot of cash, perhaps worsening the already fragile relationship between the two North West cities. That said, much has been made between the friendly relationship between the two politicians, with both working closely on the Hillsborough campaign recently and now similarly taking up the fight for the Orgreve Justice campaigners. Whether this alliance will be affected in the future will be of interest to political commentators and gossip columnists alike.
Whilst both mayoral candidates come from different parts of the Labour Party, in order to be successful they will need to demonstrate they are committed to their respective regions and are not simply the Labour Party’s mouthpiece in the North. They will need to be champions for their regions, attracting business investment and better standards of living, whilst placing their regions’ concerns and demands at the top of the Westminster agenda. Whether they can do this, time will tell – but what is probably of more interest is whether Jeremy Corbyn and his Momentum allies will be holding on to the strings going forward.