Manchester Mayoral Election Results on the 6th Anniversary of Kath Fry’s Death

Cllr Kath Fry Manchester City Council

Official photo taken when Kath Fry was chair of the Education Committee

It was 6 years ago today that Kath died, on local election day, having already cast her postal vote. With all the current political turmoil, I often find myself wondering “What would Mum think about this?“. I’m pretty sure she would be very depressed about the direction that the country is taking.

Manchester hasn’t had local council elections this year, instead there is the new Greater Manchester mayoral election. The results will be announced later today. Across the country there have been local council elections, and the results so far that I am seeing at the time of writing this post are not looking good at all for Labour.

The Guardian has a live election results tracker here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2017/may/04/local-and-mayoral-elections-2017-live-results-tracker. Other pages on the Guardian website suggest that the results for the Manchester and West Midlands mayoral elections will be announced around 6pm today (5th May 2017).

Something I find confusing is that we are having these mayoral elections at all, since in 2012 there was a referendum on this subject and we voted against it. According to the BBC website “Manchester voted against the proposal by a margin of 53.2% to 46.8%.” Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wakefield, Coventry, Leeds and Bradford all voted “no” to the idea, and here we are having those very elections. Yet in a more recent referendum, the people have spoken with a closer margin and that decision is gospel. Very strange.

Actually, according to Wikipedia, as of October 2016, there have been a total of 53 referendums on the subject of directly elected mayors. The full table of these results makes interesting reading here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England_and_Wales_mayoral_referendums

Changes of figurehead and democracy are always going to be controversial. In Manchester, when the Left took over the Council in 1984, getting rid of the pomp and ceremony associated with the role of Lord Mayor was on the list of desired changes. That story is detailed in Chapter 3 of Manchester 1984. Of course, all did not go smoothly as the popularity of the role was underestimated. After a few years of the Leader of the Council, the post title returned to Lord Mayor.

The new post of directly elected mayor of Greater Manchester is quite a different job to Lord Mayor of the city of Manchester and also not same as the post that the 2012 referendum asked about. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) was established in 2011 and is made up of the ten Greater Manchester councils – Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. Since June 2015, there has been an Interim Mayor, Tony Lloyd. The Mayor will have various powers and responsibilities, including for the fire service, transport, planning and also those previously held by the Police and Crime Commissioner. (Source: https://gmelects.org.uk/)

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