Despite there being fewer Labour metro mayors than the Party would have hoped for following a string of disappointing results at May’s local elections, the Party still enjoys an iron grip on three of the UK’s largest cities, adding the Liverpool and Manchester mayoralties to its stronghold in London.
Given Labour’s performance in the UK’s urban centres at June’s General Election, any future Labour Government would likely build on this dominance both at a constituency and mayoral level.
However there is also the potential for the Party’s mayors to use their media profiles to establish themselves as an opposition to Labour’s leadership in Parliament and even as leaders in waiting. While this is the case to differing degrees, with Sadiq Khan finding himself very publicly at odds with the Leader on a number of occasions, even long-time Corbyn ally and Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotheram, has faced criticism on the Left from influential unions for his handling of the recent Merseyrail strike.
Brexit represents another issue around which the mayors could create additional headaches for the Labour leadership.
At a local government level, the main challenges the Party faces going forward are internal. While Party divisions at a national level may have subsided, at least for now, following Corbyn’s better than expected General Election defeat, talk of (de)selections on a number of traditionally moderate Labour-held councils such as Southwark, Lambeth and Hackney persists.
The upshot of this is that typically business friendly councils may be less willing to engage in a bid to fend off any pressure from the Left, instead showing their ‘For-the-many-not-the-few’ credentials. This is particularly the case in the capital in the run-up to local elections in May 2018.
Businesses therefore will need to demonstrate that they recognise the priorities of the Party leadership and can respond to this when engaging with local authorities. In regards to metro mayors, understanding their specific regional agendas and the need to own their newly created roles will be key to being heard.
To find out more about why business should engage with Labour Party policy, download our online pamphlet here.