Labour’s Byrne could run for Midland mayor MP ‘to look at’ throwing hat into ring for 2020 vote
SPECULATION is growing that Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne could emerge as one of Labour’s candidate to stand against Andy Street in next year’s elections for West Midlands mayor.
The May 2020 election will see the winner lead the West Midlands Combined Authority into the postBrexit era – and potentially take on more powers including policing and the fire service.
Three Labour names have now emerged as potential runners and riders: Liam Byrne, Peter Lowe, who has recently stepped down as leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and is also a parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge; and Majid Mahmood, unions favourite and part of Birmingham City Council’s leadership team.
The Post approached Mr Byrne about the speculation.
He said: “There’s a very long queue of people asking me to do this so I am going to have to look at it soon. That’s as far as I can go at the moment. But before I make a decision there are key questions for the Labour Party, the first of which is how do we beat Andy Street, and mobilise people to get out and support us and convert our local majority into success?”
He would also want a commitment for the region to become a genuine testbed for the Labour manifesto around issues like a national education service and zero carbon, and to prioritise actions that protect the most vulnerable, including the homeless and those most affected by benefit changes.
He added: “The Street, has failed to many areas.
“When we see the rough sleeping figures later this month it will be clear that he has failed on this issue, one which he said he would sort out. He’s overseeing a street to nowhere.”
Mr Mahmood refused to be drawn on speculation other than to say there would be a ‘strong desire’ among the Labour leadership to put forward candidates who reflected the diverse nature of the region.
The council cabinet member for clean streets and waste, is politically ambitious and a lifelong socialist who is highly likely to get the backing of unions and Momentum, the grassroots left mayor, deliver Andy in so wing of the the Labour movement. A born and bred Brummie, he would likely present the clearest alternative to Mr Street on the ballot paper. Also thought to be in the running is Labour Councillor Peter Lowe, who stepped down from his role as leader of Dudley Council in November, saying he wanted to concentrate on “other political priorities”. The councillor for Lye and Stourbridge North is also Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge and a national trade union officer for Managers in Partnership with the NHS. He has been quoted saying: “I’m currently having discussions with a number of people. “It is essential we have a Labour mayor to pick up and do the work that Andy Street simply has not been able to do. I’m certainly not ruling myself out.” Mr Street, former John Lewis chief executive, won the first West Midlands mayoral election in 2017, beating Labour candidate Siôn Simon in the final round by 50.4 per cent to 49.6 per cent. He has already confirmed he plans to stand again next year.
Turnout was a mere 26.7 per cent, which undoubtedly helped push Street into the hot seat in a strong Labour area.
Labour’s National Executive Committee is expected to open the selection process for the party’s candidate for 2020 shortly.
There’s a very long queue of people asking me to do this so I am going to have to look at it soon
> Liam Byrne launched a previous campaign for mayor in 2012
> Councillor Majid Mahmood
> Siôn Simon