Labour has opted for Steve Rotheram to be their candidate in Liverpool’s mayoral election. It’s a big boost for Jeremy Corbyn, as Rotheram has been fiercely loyal to the Labour leader since Corbyn made him his PPS – essentially his right-hand man in Westminster – last September. He’s stuck by Corbyn along the way, and Rotheram suggested after winning the vote amongst Labour members that it could well have helped him defeat current mayor Joe Anderson and Luciana Berger, amongst others, in today’s vote:
‘When we phoned people I think what potentially did have an impact was this underused and rare commodity in politics at the moment and that is loyalty.’
Having won the Labour nomination, it now looks almost certain Rotheram will go the whole way and win the mayoral contest next May. This will give Corbyn, assuming he wins his own leadership election, a useful ally in an important devolved position. So what does Rotheram stand for? He’s a close friend of Andy Burnham and that political alliance is already shining through. Rotheram, like Burnham yesterday, made it clear he wants to implement a ‘north-west powerhouse’, whether or not Osborne’s plan is shelved by Theresa May. He also spoke of Westminster in a non-too-favourable light and said he wants to stick up for those who have been left behind. In a similar way to Burnham, too, he aimed his campaign pitch at those on the peripheries of the city region in which he wants to be mayor – focusing on the suburban areas which appear to have been left behind by city-centre regeneration in Liverpool and Manchester. It’s a strategy which, alongside his loyalty to Corbyn, seems to have paid dividends for Rotheram. But this being the Labour party in 2016, not everyone is pleased.
Rotheram beat Luciana Berger in the vote and becomes yet another male Labour pick for a mayoral contest: joining the ranks of Andy Burnham, Sadiq Khan, Marvin Rees and Sion Simon. Jess Phillips has been typically vocal about the appointment this morning:
All the mayors can go on an actual man date now. We can serve the tea
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) August 10, 2016
So it looks to be business as usual for Labour then. And it should also serve as a worrying sign for those opposing Corbyn that not all Labour members share their sentiments.