LABOUR ONLY FOR INTERIM GREATER MANCHESTER MAYOR?
Must we presume that the interim mayor of Greater Manchester has to come from the Labour Party? May we not consider the possibility that another party or an independent could hold this post? Might it not be healthy for the all powerful Manchester City Council to have to deal with someone not of their stripe, holding a post they never wanted?
The Labour dominated Greater Manchester Combined Authority has drawn up a job spec for the person they will appoint as interim mayor to fill in until a directly elected mayor is chosen by the people in 2017. The person has to be an elected member of one of the ten councils or an MP. Two other post holders, the elected mayor of Salford and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester are specifically included (which may be very significant in the latter case).
It is unlikely that many rank and file councillors will fancy challenging their leaders for the post and MPs have a General Election to fight. So the chances are that the interim leader will either be a current council leader, the Elected Mayor of Salford (Ian Stewart) or Police Commissioner Tony Lloyd. the current chair of The current chair of the Combined Authority Lord Smith of Wigan might still go for it but the hot money is on another Labour man, Tony Lloyd. He would lose his job under a Labour government as the party is pledged to axe the post of crime commissioner. It’s unlikely people like Sir Richard Leese (Manchester) and Jim McMahon (Oldham) will be interested in this interim position. They are aware that a Labour government might not implement the permanent post and even the Tories may be distracted in another minority government.
It is open to Sean Anstee, the Tory leader of Trafford to put himself forward. Good luck with that.
Then we come to Stockport where the Liberal Democrats head up a minority administration. The leader Sue Derbyshire shows no sign of wanting to stand for interim mayor, but her colleague Lord David Goddard may do.
David Goddard has had a roller coaster ride in politics. Once of the Labour party, he switched to the Lib Dems and became council leader. He lost his seat in 2012 in a targeted campaign by Labour, won it back two years later before becoming a peer . As an Offerton councillor he is eligible to be the interim mayor and is reluctant for the post to go to a Labour politician by default.
Goddard has been an active member of the Combined Authority(C.A), helping to negotiate the City Deal, the first C.A Environment Commissioner and represented the nine local authorities on the Airport Board during crucial investment talks . He was a leading member of the successful campaign against plans for a congestion charge in Greater Manchester.
That was a rare defeat for Sir Richard Leese and Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein but it was an indication that Goddard is prepared to stand up to the mighty Manchester.
The Combined Authority plans to have an interim mayor in place by June and we must see what happens if Lord Goddard finally puts himself forward. Let’s hope he does because it is important, if the Greater Manchester Mayoral Election does take place in 2017,that it is not seen as just a rubber stamp for a member of the Labour hierarchy.