A close ally to Jeremy Corbyn is now in pole position to become the mayor of Liverpool which, as a result, extends the Labour leader’s reach to a major British city.
Steve Rotheram, who has been Corbyn’s parliamentary aide since he took as over Labour leader, beat sitting mayor Joe Anderson to become the Labour candidate for the 2017 Liverpool city mayoral election.
The Liverpool region has long been a very safe Labour seat, meaning Walton MP Rotheram is all but guaranteed to become the first person to be elected to the new role.
Liverpool already has a directly elected mayor. However, changes to regional governance mean the city’s next mayor will enjoy a range of new powers.
They will be responsible for a much wider area, including places on the fringe of the city, and will have a £900 million budget to spend in important policy areas like education, housing, and transport.
Rotheram won 55% of the final run-off vote to fend off competition from current mayor Anderson and shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger. The result means that all of Labour’s mayors will be men.
The Walton MP is one of Corbyn’s closest allies in the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He has frequently appeared at Corbyn rallies and shares the Labour leader’s views on numerous issues.
His selection came just a day after fellow Labour MP and shadow home secretary Andy Burnham was chosen to stand for Labour in the upcoming mayoral election in Manchester. Burnham has remained loyal to Corbyn, at least publicly, and refused to follow the lead of his colleagues and resign from the shadow cabinet in protest against the Labour leader earlier this summer.
Crucially, given that Burnham is the overwhelming favourite to be elected Manchester’s mayor, this means Corbyn could soon have allies overseeing two major cities. This would be yet another massive boost for Corbyn’s camp. On Monday, left-leaning candidates who support Corbyn did a clean sweep at the party’s recent National Executive Committee (NEC) election. The NEC is Labour’s chief governing body.
Furthermore, a Labour source told Business Insider on Wednesday that pro-Corbyn Labour MEP Julie Ward is set to stand in the by-election to fill the vacancy left by Rotheram in Walton, Merseyside — another safe Labour seat. Ward has frequently defended Corbyn’s leadership in the face of intense criticism from fellow Labour parliamentarians.Ward was not immediately available for comment when BI contacted her.
Ward declared support for Corbyn in a blog post she published in June, as the parliamentary coup was getting underway. She wrote:
“Jeremy Corbyn was given an overwhelming democratic mandate to lead by Party members and supporters. He brought many thousands of young people and grassroots activists into politics and into the Party, and we must engage with these new voices and try and heal the rifts between us. I am concerned that an orchestrated campaign against our leader has been underway for some time and that this undermines our ability to move forward.”
A victory for Ward would mean the Corbyn camp to both consolidate its influence in Merseyside and retain an MP in the Commons.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.