Professor John Diamond (Director of the University’s I4P) comments on the recent appointment of Labour candidate Andy Burnham:
Andy Burnham, Labour candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester, tells us something significant is happening. Most of the focus will be on the internal conflicts within the Labour Party, and they are important for many reasons. But I think the success of Andy Burnham tells us other things are happening too.
Over the past 40 plus years, city bosses saw their career ladder as going from the local to the national in the UK. And when they made that change, many of them disappeared into the Westminster fog. Andy Burnham is going the other way – from the national to the local (or rather the city region).
Why is this important? One, it suggests that he is doubtful (at best) of Labour winning the next election, and two it suggests that he thinks being mayor of the Manchester City Region is an important political role . This move would not be unusual in other countries – in the United States Obama’s first Chief of Staff went from that role to be mayor of Chicago.
The third possible consequence is that following the May mayoral elections, especially here in the North West with Liverpool and Manchester, those elected together with the mayor of Greater London might seek to shift the centre of gravity away from Westminster to the cities. What kind of new politics might that bring?
I4P are hosting a series of post Brexit conversations and talks starting this October and going through to June – click here for more information.