The race to make history is underway, as politicians from across the region begin throwing their hat into the ring to be elected as West Yorkshire’s first Mayor.
The contest could be a close one, with a lot at stake for the two main parties. Can the Conservatives hold onto the ground they made in the 2019 General Election and pull off an unlikely victory? Or will this mark the beginning of Labours return to dominance across the region? And how has the political landscape been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The new Mayor will enjoy powers over transport, housing and planning, as well as control over an increasingly large budget. But whoever wins the top job will have their work cut out, as the region looks to bounce back from the pandemic.
So, who are the budding politicians looking to make their mark and take on the job?
The Green Party has already selected Kirklees Councillor Andrew Cooper as the candidate, whilst the Yorkshire Party has gone with their leader Bob Buxton.
Until recently, the two main parties had remained quiet, but who are the potential frontrunners?
Many in the Labour Party would consider this a must-win election if the Party is to be seen to have reversed its fortunes under Keir Starmer’s leadership.
The MP for Bratley and Spen, Tracy Brabin, announced her intention to stand last Friday and immediately received the backing of none other than Doctor Who. Not a bad endorsement.
Current chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford City Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, launched her election bid over the weekend. With an already established reputation in the region, Councillor Hinchcliffe must be considered a frontrunner for the job.
However, local Huddersfield lawyer and prominent Labour activist Hugh Goulbourne will be looking to cause an upset. Hugh remains the only candidate so far to be seeking the Labour nomination who hasn’t previously held elected office.
Jon Trickett MP has all but announced his candidacy following an article in last month’s Yorkshire Evening Post in which he called for the housing crises to “be the first item on the desk of the new West Yorkshire Mayor.”
Yvette Cooper is another widely touted as a possible favourite but is yet to reveal her cards, whilst Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, has ruled herself out of the contest.
The race to become Labour’s Mayoral candidate looks set to become an exciting contest, dominated by the Party’s strong talent of female leaders. With seven months still to go, West Yorkshire looks set to become the first region of the UK to return a female metro mayor.
No front runner has yet to emerge from the Conservatives. However, a win here would make a real statement about the party’s claimed newfound strength in the North. The Party is opening a new HQ in Leeds in 2021, and they’ll be eager to have a Tory West Yorkshire Mayor there to help cut the ribbon.
Politically, the West Yorkshire Mayoral race could have important national implications. But for the residents and communities of West Yorkshire, there’s even more on the line, as questions about housing, transport, and economic recovery take centre stage.
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