GOOD TORY CANDIDATES IN MANCHESTER AND LIVERPOOL BUT LABOUR TO WIN.
Not for the first time Westminster has disrespected the local election process. The constitutional innovation of electing mayors for some of our great conurbations next Thursday should be at the centre of political attention at the moment. Instead it will be largely ignored as we focus on the June General Election. Theresa May is not the first Prime Minister to do this and won’t be the last.
It is difficult to judge what effect the calling of the General Election will have on the mayoral races in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region (LCR)but it is unlikely to help turnout. In his blog this week Downtown’s CEO Frank McKenna says a poll of over 25% in LCR will give the winner credibility. It is a commentary on the low expectations we have of local democracy when such a case can be argued.
It has also been suggested that people will vote “down the ballot”. This might help the Conservatives, the argument being that people are making up their minds about where their political preference lies this summer. If they have concluded that Strong and Stable Government (I’m already fed up with it too) is the answer they will vote Caldera/Anstee in the mayoral elections and May in June. May in June! Boom! Boom!
Caldera is Tony Caldeira, the Cotton King of Knowsley. A successful soft furnishings businessman he has impressed people at the hustings. He stresses his contact with government ministers and his call for a register of brownfield sites for housing is a sensible one. Caldera is an example of a Merseyside Conservative in the tradition of David Hunt (ex Wirral West) or Malcolm Thornton (ex Crosby). He’s a One Nation Tory who doesn’t lay on his conservatism too thickly. I don’t think he’ll win but he deserves to be selected for a winnable seat in the General Election.
Victory in the Liverpool City Region will almost certainly go to Labour candidate, Steve Rotheram, representing “the place I love”. His central policy aims are the reregulation of buses, drives for skills and affordable housing and zero carbon city region by 2040. It had been expected that Rotheram’s victory would have started a running battle with the city of Liverpool’s elected mayor Joe Anderson who wanted the city region job. It now looks possible that Anderson will succeed Rotheram as MP for Walton if Labour’s National Executive doesn’t prefer Seb Corbyn, the party leader’s son.
Greater Manchester also has a good Tory candidate. As leader of Trafford Council, Sean Anstee was a significant broker between the Tory government and Labour controlled Manchester Council in drawing up the devolution deal. While all the other candidates criticise plans to build houses in the greenbelt, Anstee points out that tearing up the Spatial Strategy will allow speculative development to continue.
The likely winner, Labour’s Andy Burnham, says there has been too much concentration on building luxury flats in the city centre and executive homes on the main roads. He wants free bus passes for 16-18 year olds and improved connectivity between the outer boroughs.
There’s plenty of time for the General Election campaign after May 4th. Next Thursday let’s concentrate on who would be best to run the county of Lancashire and the city regions of Liverpool and Manchester.
Follow me @JimHancockUK