Manchester City Council

Back and Blue

Local elections are now receding into distant history, but for anybody who hasn't seen the results, they are available for viewing elsewhere on the Council's website. I suspect that most regular readers of this blog will already know that, in Manchester at least, election night was a spectacular success for Labour candidates (including me) with, for the second year running, Labour winning every seat in the city. The Labour Party now holds 86 of the 96 seats in the Council Chamber, something which has concerned more than one commentator.

The first thing to say about electoral politics is that the electorate is always right. If this is how Manchester voters want the city to be run, it's my job to deliver on their behalf, not question it. However, having such a large majority does make it even more incumbent upon us to be as open and transparent as we can in decision making, and maximise the extent to which ordinary citizens can participate. However, this electoral monopoly won't last for ever, and keen students of the election results will have no end of theories as to which party will rise next to challenge Labour's Manchester hegemony.

We did of course have the mayoral referendum on the same day. The proposal for a directly-elected Mayor was clearly and in my view rightly rejected. In the run up to the referendum, there was a lot of talk about a Mayor for Greater Manchester. This is something that's not really been discussed or debated in the city-region and I think that debate should now happen. I do think a model similar to the flawed and failed one operating in London should be totally rejected. Greater Manchester has benefitted enormously from the ten metropolitan Councils working together increasingly closely culminating last year in the formation of the country's first Combined Authority. If we are to have a debate it should be framed around how we might build in this success - not wreck it.

And the blue bit - not subtle

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There are 3 responses to “Back and Blue”

  1. Interested Manc Says:

    Good to have the blog back Sir Richard I've missed having something the reflect on and/or shout at depending on what is posted.

    You are obviously correct about the local elections and the hammering offered to all other parties apart from Labour. I think what it made clear to me was just how angry and/or disaffected the electorate are about national politics. Whilst I wouldn't refer to a Labour vote in Manchester as a protest vote, I do think that people have expressed the anger they feel about national issues, at a local level. The low turn out is also indicative of that and I suspect it is in part a result of people not voting as they don't feel they can support anyone.

    The Labour majority is indeed massive and, if the electorate are currently unwilling to hold the Council to account there is a need for a major focus on communication with the electorate as a matter of priority so the electorate know exactly what to hold you accountable for.

    I think that a lot of this is about communicating the ideas behind what is going on- this includes a focus on what the policies are, what the vision behind them is and how they are intended to work. Things like the Combined Authority are a vague concept to many and I for one would appreciate some coaching about what it is, what it has delivered so far and what it is intended to deliver for the people of Manchester. Without a clear linkage between the vision and the practical outcomes that make peoples' lives better it doesn't inspire and people won't turn out to vote for it.

    I sense your passion for joint working across Greater Manchester, whilst I can get the gist of why it might be a good idea, I'd like someone to share the passion with the electorate and explain why we should invest in working in a broader context that the Council and stand accountable for what emerges as a result.

    Give us the bigger picture and argue for it- that will give us something broader to hold you to account for than the frequency of bin emptying, important though it is.

  2. ABU Says:

    Just out of interest who were the 3 wards to vote FOR a Mayoral system?

  3. Bob Cratchet Says:

    Welcome back, Richard, did you have a good holiday?

    On the subject 'the electorate is always right' - would you have said this if the BNP had won any seats? Always a possibility with such a low turn out.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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