George Osborne recently proposed that Manchester should have a directly elected Mayor, which was recently accepted by the leaders of the Greater Manchester councils. The first directly elected Mayoral election will be in 2017, but, until then, in the meantime, an interim mayor will be selected. The campaign to select the citywide mayor has already started. The interim mayor will be selected by the end of this year. So, the question remains, who are the likely candidates?
Well, effectively, the criteria for selection to be interim mayor, is so constricting and limited, that only a small number of candidates have any realistic chance of being able to run and win. Here they are:
1: Richard Leese
Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, has a lot to gain from this. He has been pushing for a mayor for Manchester from the very beginning, and is reportedly keenly enthusiastic about the prospect. Leese is also a Labour Party member, which will stand him in good stead, as Greater Manchester is dominated by the Labour Party, and the selection panel is set to be 2/3rds Labour. Leese also wrote an article in the Guardian which supported his intentions to run for the mayoral post.
2: Tony Lloyd
If simply being high profile would secure you the nomination, Tony Lloyd would easily secure it. The current Greater Manchester PCC boasts a considerably impressive CV, as former chair of the parliamentary Labour party during the height of its electoral success in the Blair/Brown years, and was originally the MP for Stretford, which will appeal to people in Greater Manchester who fear the prospect of a mayor from the city becoming too Manchester-Centric. Also, the fact that his job as GMPCC would come under the control of the Mayor, should be one reason why people should watch this space. He is reported to be “Very keen” about the prospect of running.
3: Yasmin Qureshi
The only non-white MP in Greater Manchester, Yasmin Qureshi may run just to get some diversity into the pack of mainly otherwise white, old, male candidates, but is unlikely to win, as she does not have the senior council or government negotiation experience that is required.
4: Lord Peter Smith
Lord Peter Smith is the leader of Wigan council, and also the leader of the GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority), a superauthority over Greater Manchester that has limited powers. He is regarded as being a safe pair of hands that would not polarise opinion in the same way as Lloyd or Leese would, but may be trumped by the more flamboyant Lloyd.
5: Hazel Blears
Hazel Blears is another Labour figure who has the necessary experience needed to become mayor of Manchester for the interim period: After all, she was secretary of state for local government and communities. However, Blears is stepping down from parliament and is thought to not be very enthusiastic about the prospect of running for the interim post, so there is only a slim chance that she will become the Mayor.