On the 4th May 2017, close ally to Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham MP Steve Rotherham will be standing to become Liverpool City Region’s new Metro Mayor. In truth, Rotherham’s biggest task has already been defeated.
Rotherham was initially tested via a tight selection contest against Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, and current Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson. Despite a tiring and occasionally nasty campaign, Rotherham came out on top, largely due to his associations with the embattled leader of Labour Jeremy Corbyn, as at the time ballots for the selection dropped, Labour were in the midst of a full throated Parliamentary coup.
With the majority of regions covered by this election being overwhelmingly Labour, a first round victory is possible, albeit unlikely. Although, the politics of the campaign is considerably more delicate matter.
A lot will change in Liverpool City Region after the boundary review, with multiple seats being merged.
The review doesn’t help Labour in the area, with them losing one safe seat, and one marginal in the process. It also adapts the only marginal seats in the regions, forming a safe Labour seat in Birkenhead, and a Tory Marginal in Bebington and Heswall, which the Conservatives should hold comfortably based off current polling.
This will liberate the Tories to attempt more optimistic gains like Sefton Central, the seat of Rotherham’s campaign manager Bill Esterton, or even ex-Labour NEC member Conor McGinn, both of whom could fall if the findings of the Fabian Society’s latest paper “Stuck” are to be believed.
With this on the horizon, don’t be surprised if much of the Conservatives campaigning occurs around Sefton and the Wirral and Saint Helens, as they consider themselves separate from Liverpool itself, and therefore could be exploited in order to create a Conservative base within the city.
As an early general election seems more and more likely, expect the Conservatives to practice messaging towards more typical “Labour heartland” voters, because if the Conservatives can carve themselves a reasonable vote share in Liverpool, pretty much anything goes in the rest of the country.
Despite UKIP leader Paul Nuttall having a vote in the contest, it seems it’s unlikely he will stand. Shortly after his election to the position in Autumn this year, he announced his plan to stand in the Leigh by-election likely to be triggered by Andy Burnham’s victory in the Manchester Mayoral election, which would require quite a pivot from standing for Liverpool Mayor, and then only months later attempting to fill the Manchester mayor’s shoes in the Commons.
Overall anything but a Labour victory seems highly unlikely, with Labour seeming strong in the region. However what follows Rotherham’s likely election to Mayor could open Pandora’s box for Labour.