It’s Up the Poll! 2017: Tameside’s Elections

East of the M60’s preview of this year’s elections of mayoral and general varieties

  • A look ahead towards this year’s possible General Election;
  • A preview of the Mayoral Election.
Tower Mill, Dukinfield
Tower Mill, Dukinfield: now spinning cotton again, thanks to a little help from the European Union.

Subject to a Commons vote, the people of Tameside could be voting in two elections within the space of a month. What is definitely going ahead are the Mayoral Elections that will take place on the 04 May 2017. In the next few days on East of the M60, you will find out more about the second election of the two. The one that Theresa May called earlier this morning [18 April].

Today at 1105, Prime Minister Theresa May, by means of a statutory instrument, has called for a General Election on the 08 June this year. This could be on the Thursday before Whit Friday. Thereafter, her call will be subject to a vote in the House of Commons.

Why does this need to be put to a vote? As part of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (of the ConDem coalition’s authorship), any changes to the fixed date has to be subject to a Commons vote. Under this Act, our next General Election should be on the 07 May 2020, and any deviations have to fall within two months of the first Thursday in May, whatever the year.

Theresa May could get her wish if two-thirds of the majority of MPs vote in favour of a changed date. This mechanism also applies to votes of no confidence. Should she get her wish:

  • The Houses of Parliament will close on the 03 May for election related business;
  • As a consequence, the Manchester Gorton by-election, following the death of Sir Gerald Kaufmann may be cancelled. The last time this occurred was 1923, prior to John Ramsey McDonald’s election win as a minority Labour government;
  • Cue countless Party Election Broadcasts and the usual tit for tat in the newspapers.

This year’s first ever Mayoral Elections wont be affected.

Why has Theresa May called for a General Election?

The official line seems to be that of unity – the line being that everyone is behind her plan to leave the European Union. It is likely she has put her party before the country, with one poll placing the Conservative party 21 points ahead of Labour. Another theory – as reported to Michael Crick from Channel Four News – suggests she has conveniently called an election as a flak deflection measure.

Is Tameside united with May’s hypothesis?

If you took last June’s EU Referendum results as gospel, you could say nearly two-thirds would support May’s decision. Tameside, in spite of benefiting from EU monies for Metrolink and some regeneration projects played the Brexit card.

If it isn’t?

Another theory states that some people voted to leave the European Union just to give the predecessor David Cameron a kick in the nether regions. In most cases, referenda are statutory and do not have to be legally binding. The same could have applied in June 2016, but the opposite applied, hence May’s sudden volte face from Remainer to Arch Brexiteer after the 24 June.

If they voted in favour of a General Election on the 08 June, why is this important?

The magnitude of an election in June 2017 could be greater than one in 2020. Firstly, proposed boundary changes, set to take effect by 2019, would see 50 fewer MPs. Secondly, voters in future elections from 2018 – local and parliamentary – will have to carry photo-based ID prior to casting their vote. Though deemed as a security measure, claims of gerrymandering have been cited, as it claimed that working class voters may be less likely to carry a passport or a driving license.

This year’s election could be seen as a vote of confidence for the Tories’ Brexit plans, or a referendum on the future of our public services. With Tameside being one of the worst hit boroughs by austerity measures, this should be enough to sway the vote.

In a Tameside context, why does this election matter?

Over the last seven years, the state of your public services have changed beyond recognition. Though Greater Manchester’s economy has led the way throughout the North West, the back story is one of continued deprivation, homelessness, and spending cuts. Spending cuts which have seen Labour councils at the sharpest end of them.

So far, we have seen library closures and reduced opening hours; changes to our leisure facilities; more funding for free schools instead of Local Authority provision. The borough also piloted Iain Duncan-Smith’s Universal Credit in July 2013. This has had as much of a negative effect on the borough’s town centres as online shopping and parking policies. So much so that even charity shops and hire purchase electrical shops have closed in Ashton-under-Lyne.

If you value your public services, or wish to see them return to 2010 levels, why would you want to vote for a party committed to further cuts? Would you rather have more cutbacks to your services, served on a Union Flag tea towel? June 2017’s General Election could either be a vote of confidence for the Article 50 negotiations or a chance to save your public libraries.

Mayoral Elections

The 04 May 2017 will be an historic first for Greater Manchester with the introduction of elected mayors to our city region. Prior to the abolition of Greater Manchester County, voters also elected county level candidates. From 1974 to 1976, and 1981 to 1986, GMC was Labour controlled at County Hall on Portland Street, Manchester. From 1976 to 1981, the County Council was run by the Conservatives.

Whoever becomes the elected mayor of Greater Manchester will have similar devolutionary powers to its predecessor. The Office of the Mayor of Greater Manchester will have control over the city region’s NHS provision, its emergency services, and job creation programmes.

As part of the 2016 Bus Services Bill, he or she would have power to franchise the area’s bus routes. Transport for Greater Manchester is the GMCA’s executive body for public transport functions. Other powers will include the economic development of Greater Manchester; so far, each of the city region’s ten councils have been able to keep more of its business rates.

Candidates by member and party:

  • Andy Burnham, Labour;
  • Will Patterson, The Green Party of England and Wales;
  • Sean Anstee, Conservative Party;
  • Shneur Odze, United Kingdom Independence Party;
  • Mohammed Aslam, Independent;
  • Marcus Farmer, Independent;
  • Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrats;
  • Stephen Morris, English Democrats.

Of the candidates, Andy Burnham needs little introduction. In the last Labour government, he was the Health Secretary. Over the last few years, he has been a Labour leadership candidate to eventual victors Ed Miliband (2010) and Jeremy Corbyn (2015 and 2016). Apart from serving the people of Leigh, he is also a passionate Everton fan and a follower of rugby league football.

Will Patterson, the Green Party candidate, replaced the party’s previous nominee Deyika Nzeribe (who died of a heart attack on New Year’s Day this year). He is the chairperson of the Wigan and Leigh Green Party and a passionate anti-austerity campaigner. His first hand knowledge of the benefits system may endear potential voters (especially those who have claimed, or currently claiming UC).

The second most experienced candidate is the youngest one, Sean Anstee. Of late, he has been the youngest council leader for Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council. The Conservative leader for Greater Manchester’s most affluent borough has lived in Partington, went to a comprehensive school, and has worked for BNY Mellon, a leading investment bank.

The United Kingdom Independence Party’s mayoral candidate, Shneur Odze, believes in greater transparency in public service. He would also like to see police stations open and campaign against HS2. His approach to improving transparency is a council of advisors comprising of civic, communal, religious, and student representatives.

Mohammed Aslam was born in Pakistan and moved to Cheetham Hill seventeen years ago. He has also helped people in the community in his local mosque, and make Greater Manchester a “more developed and modern region”. He is a director of a property letting company.

Marcus Farmer has previously stood as an independent candidate in the 2010 and 2015 General Elections for Manchester Withington. In 2010, he stated how he took a keen interest in environmental and financial issues. He also believes in free bus, train, and tram travel for all in Greater Manchester and Grammar Schools.

Timperley councillor, Jane Brophy, is the Liberal Democrats’ mayoral candidate. She would like to fight against a “ruinous hard Brexit that will cost jobs across Greater Manchester”. She may be a kindred spirit amongst campaigners against Sidebottom Fold’s development. As well as bashing Brexit, she would like to see the back of the GMCA’s Spatial Framework plans.

The English Democrats’ candidate, Stephen Morris, is also the party’s North West chairman. From 2003 to 2010, he was Unite’s branch secretary for Metrolink. If elected, he would like to make the North West of England Britain’s very own Silicon Valley.

*                               *                              *

Next up on It’s Up The Poll! 2017

We shall have the lowdown on the parliamentary election candidates in our three constituencies and take a look at each party’s manifestoes.

S.V., 18 April 2017.

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One thought on “It’s Up the Poll! 2017: Tameside’s Elections

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  1. A couple of points: The calling of a General Election as early as June 8th means all existing Parliamentary business (ie. Bills ping-ponging between commons and Lords) must be completed by May 3. It is believed that any Contentious ones will get postponed until after the Election, which could in practice mean Cancelled. This (according to the MEN) includes the Bus Services Bill, simply because the SoS for Transport, Chris Grayling doesn’t agree with it. If this happens the Elected Mayor will have very little say over Bus Services and certainly there will be no Franchising or Quality Contracts, or cheaper multi-modal ticketing.

    Secondly, I’m not sure what you mean by Tameside’s parking policies. Denton notwithstanding – as virtually all parking here is provided by Retailers and is therefore Free – TMBC have recently introduced a £2 cap on all parking at its Car Parks. Given that no Tamesider lives more than 5 miles from their nearest major town, it can be concluded that this figure has been arrived at to guarantee that car use (fuel plus parking) will *always* be cheaper than bus use. And guess where I picked up a leaflet advertising this……..yes, Ashton BUS Station Travelshop. I’m glad to report the leaflet is no longer on display, but if anyone asks why “Tameside Interchange” has fewer stands (and no doubles) than the existing Bus Station – here’s at least part of the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

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