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7 February 2020updated 29 Jun 2021 3:44pm

Eight questions for the Labour leadership candidates

Labour's metro-mayors have questions for the party's new leader.

By Steve Rotheram

Congratulations on securing the necessary nominations to stand for election as Leader of our Party.

It is nearly three years since Labour mayors were first elected in our city-regions. Since then, we have been busy implementing Labour policies such as:

  • tackling the rough-sleeping and homelessness crisis;
  • introducing free or concessionary travel for our young people and apprentices; 
  • developing employment charters which will raise the standards of work and abolish zero hours contracts; 
  • reforming our public transport systems;
  • raising skills levels through the innovative use of Adult Education Budgets.

But, despite all this, it feels as though at times we have been invisible to the Party at a national level. Despite representing five million people, we are not invited to speak at annual conference and have no formal role in party policy-making or nomination rights in elections. The Party has had very little to say about our work – unlike the Tories who regularly mention their Mayors at the Despatch Box. The 2019 General Election Manifesto had very little to say about devolution and in fact it went backwards from the 2017 Manifesto.

We believe this is a major mistake. Labour Metro Mayors are the most senior elected Labour office-holders in England with real power to make change and implement Labour policies. By investing in devolution, and showing how Labour in office can change lives for the better, the Party can develop new ideas and bring forward the prospect of a Labour Government.

Labour should be the champions of taking power out of Westminster and putting it in the hands of the people. 

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The UK remains one of the most politically centralised countries in Europe and we won’t re-engage people through a continuation of the centralising top-down, Westminster-centric approach.  

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Devolution in England needs to go further, faster and deeper. It is the way to rebuild from the bottom up, engage with local people, businesses and the voluntary sector and build a new, inclusive way of doing politics.

We want the next Leader of Labour Party to understand the potential of devolution to renew our Party and to commit to it fully. We must not leave this space vacant for the Tories to colonise. Therefore, before this Leadership contest is over, we would be interested in hearing your response to the following questions:

1.  What is your view of English devolution, Metro Mayors and Combined Authorities?

2. What plans do you have to take power out of Westminster and strengthen devolution in England?

3. What are your plans for de-centralising Whitehall Departments and moving other London-based institutions to the English regions?

4. Do you believe that Mayors should have a formal role at Labour Party Conference?

5. Do you agree that Labour Mayors should have nomination rights for Leader and Deputy Leader elections, as MPs currently do?

6. Should there be a place on the NEC for Mayors or a representative of the Mayors?

7. Should Mayoral candidates receive support and resources from the Party at least the same as those provided to marginal council and Parliamentary seats?

8. Will you agree to set-up a commission with Metro Mayors – to report back within 12     

     months of you being elected as leader – to examine the opportunities to devolve powers      

     to city region mayors?

If our party is to regain the trust of voters, especially in the north of England, then we, and if you are elected Leader, you, will need to recognise and act on the calls for more control from these areas and set out a substantial policy agenda that will renew our politics and resonate with voters.

We look forward to receiving your response.

Best wishes