Well, there you have it. A man repeatedly tells us that he has “the best job in the world” as Mayor of Liverpool. He is, he insists, devoted to a mission to rejuvenate the city; and, apparently, only he is able to lead Liverpool onwards and upwards. Opposition to him in any form is treated, not just with contempt, but with abusive hostility. Thus stands the developers’ friend, and lover of vanity projects.
Then along comes the new position of metro mayor. Notwithstanding his claimed devotion to the cause of Liverpool, he puts himself forward as the Labour candidate for the new post, ready and willing to dump responsibility for Liverpool in the greater cause of his massive ego. However, Labour Party members across the city-region saw through his insincerity, and gave him a political bloody nose. Steve Rotheram won the Labour nomination hands down.
Now this ego on speed has plumbed new depths. In anticipation of a vacancy for a Labour candidate in Walton at the forthcoming general election, he has brazenly put himself forward as a potential Labour candidate. Thus, for the second time, he is attempting to jump ship from the Liverpool mayoralty, despite his claimed commitment to the job.
The man who gave Heseltine the freedom of the city and who joined Cameron in the failed “Big Society” now says he wants to look the Tories in the eye in Westminster, and reproach them for their austerity policies. What, then, has he been doing these last seven years? Of course, his timing is also significant. Has he not repeatedly claimed that the finances of Liverpool fall off the cliff in 2018?
Nevertheless, his bloated ambition might be restrained by Labour Party processes. Any qualified Labour Party member is entitled to seek nomination as a Labour parliamentary candidate. However, the time scale engendered by this shock general election is very short. Labour Party rules empower its National Executive to take emergency action over a candidate in situations like Walton (four weeks before the general election, the Walton MP – Steve Rotheram – is hot favourite to be elected metro mayor). That means the National Executive can impose a candidate of their choosing.
They may well choose one of the local members who has expressed an interest in the nomination. On the other hand, their choice could be anyone from anywhere who, they believed, added some extra quality to the collective abilities of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Then again, internal party politics at the highest level may determine who will inherit one of Labour’s safest seats in the country.
So what if Mayor Anderson is once again unsuccessful in his “chicken run” for a venue big enough to accommodate his ego? His position as Mayor of Liverpool will surely be holed below the waterline. If he cannot get support within his party for nominations, what would hold the Liverpool Labour Group to him? His desperate attempts to do a moonlight flit from the Cunard Building evokes images of those other seamen who scrambled out of the Titanic. One must assume that the Liverpool Labour group will, in such circumstances, view him as a busted flush.
On the other hand, if he was to be successful and win Walton, the effects would be equally profound. I believe that Westminster would very quickly shatter his ego – it has done so repeatedly to council leaders who have sought the bigger parliamentary stage without success. More importantly, it would open up Liverpool Council to a bitter succession battle, and a huge argument over whether the discredited city mayoral position ought to be discarded. Either way, there are troubling times ahead.