The Government’s announcement of delaying Local and Mayoral elections by 12-months will have sent shockwaves through political circles, but few have asked how it will change prospects in Greater Manchester.
Jennifer Williams, of the Manchester Evening News, recently wrote of her surprise that the Conservatives had not selected a candidate until March, leaving only a narrow window to campaign.
Compared to London, Greater Manchester has rather slim pickings, with only the established parties running candidates.
London has a diverse range of candidates, including Rory Stewart, former Conservative minister.
There is now an opportunity for outsiders to enter the race and take advantage of an extra year of campaigning for the office.
Has it done before?
Ken Livingstone famously ran as an independent after failing to secure the Labour nomination, beating Frank Dobson who many viewed as a Second Rate choice backed by Blair and the party machinery.
Bristol and Tower Hamlets have both also elected outsiders to the position of Mayor, highlighting a trend of unique individuals being able to bypass partisan lines.
Who could run?
A candidate wanting to take on the ‘big three’ would need a media profile and wider support from the business community.
Sacha Lord, currently advisor to Andy Burnham, could be a popular choice following his appearance on Question Time.
Maggie Oliver, former police detective, is another individual sources have confirmed to be interested in the post.
Her media coverage following the grooming scandals could see her become a formidable force on crime for Labour to beat.
Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, has been linked to the role a number of times, unfortunately because of a police caution he is barred from Mayoral elections.
What are the key issues?
Probably the most prominent issue is the soaring crime rates, with Salford seeing shooting rates matching the infamous Gooch and Doddington days.
An Independent with robust policies on crime would see them challenge incumbent Andy Burnham, who’s faced increasing media pressure in recent weeks.
This could also affect the Salford Mayor, who is up for re-election at the same time.
Transport is another area needing attention, with Andy Burnham seemingly hesitant to make a business case for underground tube lines for the region.
With growth increasing in the city, decisions on big infrastructure projects need to be made now, or there will be major capacity issues.
An Independent with a bold manifesto on transport would bring unprecedented support from employers and developers alike.
The Mayor’s number one job?
The Mayor of New York doesn’t just represent Manhattan, they represent a multi-cultural hotbed encompassing NYC’s five boroughs.
Similarly in Manchester, the Mayor has to represent ten diverse boroughs, all with different needs.
This is where a non-partisan candidate would have a trump card, being able to generate support in traditional Labour and Tory areas, something main party candidates would find difficult.