If the Council had a fiver for every time I've been asked about if I was going to stand for GM Mayor we would probably be looking at a budget surplus rather than cuts next year. I have so far delayed announcing my decision for good strategic reasons but can't put it of any more, not at least as at least two people have already, in my view prematurely, announced their candidacy.
The bottom line is that I have no desire to be Mayor of Greater Manchester and have no intention of being a candidate. It is not something I want to do. Over the past months many people have come to me with loads of perfectly rational reasons why I should stand, including the not very flattering that at least I'm better than the alternatives, and given the importance of the position to the future of the city I have regularly weighed those reasons in my mind. Every time my gut tells me no. This is not however a purely emotional decision, and I have my own " rational " reasons for not standing.
Throughout my political career I have always looked for progress, both for the city but also personally. For me it is always about what's new, about challenges. Given the experiences of the last few years, in many ways I see the Mayoralty as a step backwards, a step down even , although after two demanding, difficult but exciting decades as Leader of the Council I would struggle to think of another political position that wouldn't be a step down.. In contrast, the challenge of developing " Our Manchester ", our own strength based approach to the Council working with Manchester people, is infinitely more exciting than anything being Mayor of GM has to offer.
I also think that the Greater Manchester should be electing a candidate with at least two terms in mind. Our experience in Manchester is that profound change takes time and the amount anyone would be able to achieve in the first ( three year ) term is limited. That would mean being prepared to make a minimum eight year commitment and that is something which at this stage of my life I am not prepared to do.
There is much of the Mayor's job that doesn't particularly appeal to me, in particular the ambassadorial role. This is obviously something I do now, but I it will be a far greater part of the Mayor's role and frankly I'd rather be having a pint in the Cleveland than selling Manchester to investment funds in some anonymous international hotel.
I would also resent the amount of time seeking to be a candidate would take. There's too much to do - elections in May, the referendum in June, a devolution agreement to implement, investment for the north of England to be secured, a city to run.
Finally, I don't meet my idea of the ideal candidate. The elected Mayor of Greater Manchester is a new position. It is unlike any other and so there are few precedents. This seems to be a perfect time to move on from those of us that got us to this position and to have a Mayor who can bring freshness and originality to the post without being tied down by the past. I hope we see a range of potential candidates that reflect the wonderful diversity of our city, but having said that a pen picture of my ideal candidate would probably be twenty years younger and a different gender.