Labour’s Byrne could run for Mid­land mayor MP ‘to look at’ throw­ing hat into ring for 2020 vote

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jane Haynes Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­sp­n­dent

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

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