Liveblog: What is happening with England's metro mayoral elections?

A giant ballot box in Bristol, 2012. Image: Getty.

On Thursday, residents in six English regions are going to the polls to elect their first metro mayors. Roughly analogous to London mayor Sadiq Khan, albeit not quite as mighty, these new posts will have control of budgets pooled from several local authorities, and powers over areas including skills, housing, transport and growing the region's economy.

Because I know how to live, I thought I'd liveblog.

Got a contribution? Tweet or email me.

1750hrs

So here, at last, are our six new metro mayors, with their winning margins:

  • Greater Manchester: Andy Burnham (Lab): 63.4% in round one
  • Liverpool City Region: Steve Rotheram (Lab): 59.3% in round one
  • Cambridgeshire & Peterborough: James Palmer (Con): 56.9% in the run off
  • West of England: Tim Bowles (Con): 51.6% in the run off
  • Tees Valley: Ben Houchen (Con): 51.2% in the run off
  • West Midlands: Andy Street (Con): 50.4% in the run off

And, for comparison:

  • London (2016): Sadiq Khan (Lab): 56.8% in the run off

So: the main story is the Tories over-performing expectations, and Labour having a bad time of it everywhere but the north west.

Turnout this week ranged from about 21 per cent in Tees Valley to 33 per cent in Cambridgeshire.

In most of the more urban regions, the LibDem vote was a lot lower than we’d expected, and the UKIP one almost invisible.#

And with that, I’m signing off. Thanks for reading.

1745hrs

My friend Lance, who has been emailing stuff like this all day in a frankly transparent attempt to get onto the blog, notes that John Barrowman updated his website just moments after Andy Burnham’s victory in Manchester was declared:

“Coincidence?” asks Lance. “Or just that Burnham is already attracting the top talent to the Northern Powerhouse?”

Good question.

1731hrs

And there we are: the last result. Conservative James Palmer has been elected mayor of Cambridgeshire, after a run off against LibDem Rod Cantrill. Here's the final tally from the second round:

  • James Palmer (Con) - 88,826 (56.9%)
  • Rod Cantrill (LD) - 67,205 (43.1%)

Unlike the other Tory victories, that wasn't even close. 

1714hrs

The final indignity.

1706hrs

Some cold comfort for the opposition: they keep coming very, very close. Look at the Tory victories:

  • West Midlands: Andy Street (Con): 50.4%; Sion Simon (Lab): 49.6%
  • Tees Valley: Ben Houchen (Con): 51.2%; Sue Jeffrey (Lab): 48.9%
  • West of England: Tim Bowles (Con): 51.6%; Lesley Mansell (Lab): 48.4%

The two winning Labour candidates, by contrast, had runaway victories, getting over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round. Steve Rotheram in Liverpool won 59 per cent; Andy Burnham in Manchester won 63 per cent.

“Labour win Manchester” isn’t that comforting, now I see it written down. But still: those are three very near misses.

1652hrs

Conservative Andy Street has just won the West Midlands. Bloody hell it was close. Here's the final result:

  • Andy Street (Con) - 238628 (50.4%)
  • Sion Simon (Lab) - 234862 (49.6%)

That’ll be a genuinely heartbreaking result for Simon, who quit parliament in 2010 to campaign for a Birmingham mayoralty. To get this close, and then lose by 0.4 per cent... Poor guy.

The upside, such as it is, is that a Tory victory in one of the big conurbations probably does mean that metro mayors are here to stay. It’s a bad day for Labour; it might be a good one for England’s cities.

1641hrs

Well, yes, actually, I think.

Burnham won 63 per cent of first preferences, on a turnout of 29 per cent. So that's, give or take, 18 per cent of the electorate. No, it's not great, when put like that.

Except... in London in 2016, Sadiq Khan won 44 per cent of first preferences, on a turnout of 45 per cent. That works out to 20 per cent of the electorate.

Khan is the third man to hold an established post that's been around for 16 years. And nobody seriously questions his mandate to represent London.

I've not been shy of writing negative things about Andy Burnham in the past. But I think it's very hard to look at this result and not see it as a big vote of confidence.

1634hrs

I have just learned that my dietary choices are being mocked over on the New Statesman's other liveblog.

Don't read that one, it's rubbish.

1630hrs

The missing authority? Birmingham, the single largest local authority in the country. Simon needs to beat Street by 6,000 votes there. This is a bloody nail-biter.

1625hrs

A correspondent writes:

He's jumping the gun a bit – the count is still officially two – but James Palmer is all but certain to win Cambridgeshire, and Andy Street is probably the favourite in the West Midlands.

Anyway, my feeling is that the answer is yes. Theresa May is not, let's say, a fan of principled opposition; anecdotally, she has expressed her displeasure at the fact there's a popular Labour mayor of London. What's more, the metro mayors were the pet project of former chancellor George Osborne, who she fired, and who is now taking potshots at the government from his new office over at the Evening Standard.

So - if Labour had won most of the new mayoralties, I suspect we'd hear a lot about low turnout, weak mandates, and so forth. They'd get no support; they’d certainly get no extra powers; and in two or three years time, they could even plausibly face talk of abolition.

All that seems a lot less likely now the Tories have won some unexpected victories. I'm only half kidding when I say I'm more worried about the fate of the Labour-held Bristol mayoralty ("Does this region really need two mayors...?")

What's more, the London mayoralty has gradually become more powerful over time. The longer these posts last, the more embedded they become.

All of which makes me wonder if, just maybe, a Tory victory in the West Midlands today could perversely be good news for very un-Tory cities like Liverpool and Manchester.

1613hrs

Here’s where we are. We have results from...

Greater Manchester – Thumping victory for Labour’s Andy Burnham, winning 63 per cent in the first round, and winning every borough. Tories on 22; LibDems on 6. Turnout of 29 per cent.

Liverpool City Region – Labour’s Steve Rotheram won on the first round, getting 59 per cent of the vote. Tory Tony Caldeira came second with 20 per cent; LibDem Carl Cashman got under 7 per cent. Turnout was 26 per cent

West of England – Conservative Tim Bowles was elected, after beating Labour’s Lesley Mansell 52/48 in the second round. Turnout 29 per cent.

Tees Valley – Biggest upset of the day: Conservative Ben Houchen was elected, after beating Labour’s Sue Jeffrey 51 to 49 in the run-off. Turnout was just 21 per cent.

We are still waiting on...

West Midlands – Tory Andy Street leads Labour’s Sion Simon after the first round, 42 to 41 per cent. Still waiting on the run-off.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – Tory James Palmer to face LibDem Rod Cantrill in the run-off, extremely hard to see where the votes could come from for the latter to pulling it back.

1605hrs

First round results from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. It'll be a Tory/Lib Dem run-off.

  • James Palmer (Con) - 76,064 (38.0%) 
  • Rod Cantrill (LD) - 47,026 (23.5%) 
  • Kevin Price (Lab) - 37,297 (18.6%) 
  • Paul Bullen (UKIP) -15,931 (8.0%) 
  • Julie Howell (Grn) - 12,628 (6.3%) 
  • Peter Dawe (Ind) - 9,176 (4.6%) 
  • Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats) - 2,256 (1.1%)

Exceptionally hard to imagine Cantrill getting 30,000 second preferences and going on to win, but hope springs eternal.

1555hrs

Okay, this is a big win for Burnham: bigger than Rotheram in Liverpool.

  • Andy Burnham (Lab) - 359,352 (63.4%)
  • Sean Anstee (Con) - 128,752 (22.7%)
  • Jane Brophy (LD) - 34,334 (6.1%)
  • Will Patterson (Grn) - 13,424 (2.4%)
  • Stephen Morris (English Democrats) - 11,115 (2.0%)
  • Shneur Odze (UKIP) - 10,583 (1.9%)
  • Mohammad Aslam (Ind) - 5,815 (1.0%)
  • Marcus Farmer (Ind) - 3,360 (0.6%)

It's another shockingly bad result for the LibDems: no surge in evidence. And UKIP are basically no longer visible to the human eye: being beaten by the English Democrats has got to hurt.

But the big story here is that Andy Burnham has won one hell of a mandate. He got nearly twice as many votes as Sean Anstee in his own borough of Trafford:

1538hrs

Not everyone's keen on Burnham's peldge to offer free transport for 16-17 year olds:

1534hrs

Yep, it's Burnham. Big win, apparently. Will update with numbers in a sec.

1521rhs

Lot of people in Manchester saying Burnham has won on the first round. It sounds like he absolutely stormed it. Some comments from good northern reporters you should follow if you're on Twitter:

For all the jokes about Burnham, he was by far the most prominent politician to run for any of these mayoral elections, and will likely be a very strong voice for the north. A big win wouldn't be that surprising.

1518hrs

In Manchester, Andy Burnham is reportedly hugging supporters before the result has officially been confirmed.

Which will make it pretty funny if he loses.

1511hrs:

The 2nd and 3rd in question are Labour candidate Kevin Price and the LibDem Rod Cantrill. It matters – because someone who makes it to the top two could, theoretically, win on 2nd preferences...

Nah I'm just kidding around, I'm almost certain they're just fighting over the chance to lose to Conservative James Palmer. Here he is now:

1500hrs

Lunch update: just ate some Weetabix out of a mug. 

1455hrs

It's that man Patrick Maguire again, talking about Carl Cashman's campaign to be the Lib Dem mayor of the Liverpool City Region:

[Carl] Cashman campaign source says finishing third on 7 per cent is “mad”, and that the camp “don’t understand it”. Thinks tiny turnout and Cashman’s second-preference friendliness, especially for Labour voters, played a part.

This also bodes pretty ill for the Lib Dems’ chances of holding onto Southport, where they’re defending a slim 1,322 majority over the Tories. 

1441hrs

Well Oliver, I'm very glad you asked, mostly because I saw someone else ask this yesterday and so know the answer. 

It doesn't happen often – generally, if you win in the first round, you've won. But it does happen. Check out the results of the 2015 election to be mayor of Copeland in Cumbria:

After the first round, Labour's Steve Gibbons was way ahead. But the independent Mike Starkie was more acceptable to Tory voters, so won.

Which means all hope is not yet lost for Sion Simon in the West Midlands. Just... mostly lost.

(Thanks to Eliot Andersen for knowing the answer to this question so I could steal it.)

1434hrs

Final results in Tees Valley: 

  • Ben Houchen (Con) - 48,578 (51.2%)
  • Sue Jeffrey (Lab) - 46,400 (48.9%)

That's the second metro mayoralty, after West of England, that Labour has lost on something painfully close to a 52/48 split. Bloody Brexit.

1428hrs

Meanwhile in the West Midlands, Tory Andy Street is leading Labour's Sion Simon, 42 per cent to 41 per cent after first preferences. 

That looks like a very good result for Street.

1424hrs

I was not panicking prematurely about the Tees Valley. Conservative Ben Houchen has won, beating Labour's Sue Jeffrey. 

I'm genuinely quite cut up about that: partly because Jeffrey was a very thoughtful candidate, partly because it points towards a complete wipe out for Labour next month.

And partly because it means that it is now extremely likely that every metro mayor in England will be a man.

1420hrs

Oh, maybe I was panicking prematurely about the Tory surge on Merseyside:

1419hrs

Here’s where we are.

Liverpool City Region – Labour’s Steve Rotheram won on the first round, getting 59 per cent of the vote. Tory Tony Caldeira came second with 20 per cent; LibDem Carl Cashman got under 7 per cent. Turnout was 26 per cent

West of England – Conservative Tim Bowles was elected, after beating Labour’s Lesley Mansell 52/48 in the second round. Turnout 29 per cent.

Greater Manchester – Turnout of around 29 per cent, result expect around 6pm. Andy Burnham almost certain to win, but turnout seems to be highest in areas like Trafford, which doesn’t bode well for Labour generally.

West Midlands – Another result expected around 6pm. Turnout expected to be mid to high 20s but we don’t yet have a figure: looks to be high in Tory Solihull and low in Labour Sandwell. This one will genuinely be a nail-biter.

Tees Valley – Conservative Ben Houchen leads Labour’s Sue Jeffrey after the first round, 39.5 per cent to 39 per cent, so its squeaky bum time. Abysmal turnout of around 21 per cent. Result expected at 4pm, but may well come sooner.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – Result expected around 5pm, turnout of over 33 per cent, probably thanks to county council elections. Very high around Cambridge, very low around Peterborough. Tory James Palmer likely to win.

I have yet to have lunch but I have eaten a lot of sugary carbs.

1359hrs

Thoughts on Liverpool: 

This is actually another pretty great result for the Tories. They were never going to win, but second? On Merseyside?

The LibDems were nowhere: once again, no sign of a yellow revival.

And perversely... winning only 59 per cent of the vote in this region doesn't feel that great for Labour. I worry. 

Paul Breen, by the way, is the candidate of the “Get the coppers off the jury” party. He has refused to give interviews of publish a manifesto, on the grounds that the party name says everything he needed to say. So.

1354hrs

RESULT! Steve Rotheram wins the Liverpool City Region on the first round, taking 59.3 per cent of the vote. Here’s the full list:

  • Steve Rotheram (Lab) - 171,167 (59.3%)
  • Tony Caldeira (Con) - 58,805 (20.4%)
  • Carl Cashman (LD) - 19,751 (6.8%)
  • Tom Crone (Grn) - 14,094 (4.9%)
  • Paula Walters (UKIP) - 11,946 (4.1%)
  • Roger Bannister (TUSC) - 7,881 (2.7%)
  • Tabitha Morton (WEP) - 4,287 (1.5%)
  • Paul Breen (JURY) - 729   (0.3%)

1307hrs

Uhoh. First round results from the Tees Valley:

That's a 481 vote lead for the Conservative, Ben Houchen. Sue Jeffrey could pull this back on second preferences, but it's going to be tight.

(Hattip: Alex Denvir.)

1233hrs

Pah, and they said nobody would care about these elections.

My knowledge of the region is limited, so I asked the New Statesman’s resident Merseysider Patrick Maguire for his take on the relative turnouts across the region.

While overall turnout in the Liverpool City Region mayoral was a not unrespectable 26.1 per cent, the significant variation across the boroughs reflects the challenges ahead for likely winner Steve Rotheram.

The highest turnout, unsurprisingly, was to be found in Rotheram’s Liverpool backyard, where 28.6 per cent went to the polls. Outside of the city proper, Wirral and Sefton posted turnouts of 27.8 per cent and 26.9 per cent respectively – the latter despite one polling district in Southport boasting a subterranean turnout of just 8 per cent.

In Knowsley, home of photogenic Lib Dem wunderkind Carl Cashman, turnout was 22.7 per cent. The two boroughs which arguably look eastwards towards Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire rather than the Liverpool conurbation – Halton and St Helens – posted lowly turnouts of 20.5 per cent and 22.9 per cent.

Those numbers – as well as that 8 per cent figure for Norwood ward in Southport – reflect the inconvenient truth that will likely preclude Rotheram from doing anything all that significant with the mayoralty: few people not already sympathetic to his politics, or with a Liverpudlian identity, care.

While Sefton and Wirral’s turnouts weren’t all that shabby in the context of this contest, it’s worth remembering that neither is homogenous. Both contain one or two Scouser Labour towns (Birkehead and Wallasey in Wirral; Bootle in Sefton) and posher, bluer, well-heeled dormitories (think Heswall, Hoylake, and Bebington on the Wirral; Southport, Formby and Crosby in Sefton).

It’s clear that Rotheram has managed to turn the Labour vote out – and victory is almost certainly his. But at what cost to the viability of the project?

So, I hope that cheered you all up.

1217hrs

If you’re just joining us, here’s where we are.

Liverpool City Region – Turnout of around 26 per cent, result expected around 3pm. Should be an easy win for Labour’s Steve Rotheram.

Greater Manchester – Turnout of around 29 per cent, result expect around 6pm. Andy Burnham almost certain to win, but turnout seems to be highest in areas like Trafford, which doesn’t bode well for Labour generally.

West Midlands – Another result expected around 6pm. Turnout expected to be mid to high 20s but we don’t yet have a figure: looks to be high in Tory Solihull and low in Labour Sandwell. This one will genuinely be a nail-biter.

Tees Valley – Abysmal turnout of around 21 per cent. Result expected at 4pm, but since there are only about half a dozen votes to count, who knows, maybe they’ll finish early. Labour’s Sue Jeffrey likely to win.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – Result expected around 5pm, turnout of over 33 per cent, probably thanks to county council elections. Very high around Cambridge, very low around Peterborough. Tory James Palmer likely to win.

Oh, and Tory Tim Bowles won the West of England at some ungodly hour this morning, although Labour’s Lesley Mansell put in a pretty good showing.

Please someone tweet me something funny to distract me from all this.

1131hrs

Turnout in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough was just announced as 33.6 per cent. That's almost as good as London’s first mayoral election, although no doubt the numbers were boosted by the fact coutny council elections were also held today.

This may fit with a pattern of turnout being higher in Tory areas generally... except turnout within the county seems to have been highest in Cambridge and its suburbs, and lowest in Peterborough. 

Tory James Palmer is still the favourite, but there must be at least a chance the LibDem Rod Cantrill is in contention.

1119hrs

See? It’s not just me. From the Centre for Cities’ numbers man Paul Swinney (emphasis mine):

“Early indications are suggesting that turnout for the mayoral elections is higher than perhaps was expected. It’s great that so many have had a say, and I hope that whoever is elected in each of the mayoralties can now take the extra powers that are being handed down to them from Whitehall and make a difference to the day to day lives of the constituents they’ve been voted in by.”

Turnout in the range of 26-29 may not sound very good – but it’s worth remembering that in London’s first mayoral election in the year 2000, turnout was around 34 per cent. (It’s risen, since.) So for other city regions to be only five points below that, without the advantages of a London-centric media or juicy stories about Ken Livingstone’s defection from the Labour party, seems like a win to me.

1107hrs

Some more stuff on turnout. We already know it was around 29 per cent in both Greater Manchester and West of England. That’s at the upper end of what we were expecting – so objectively bad, but in context quite good.

Elsewhere the picture is more mixed. In the Liverpool City Region turnout was 26 per cent which is okay, but no more than that.

In Tees Valley, it was 21.3 per cent.

That’s rubbish, and means that whoever wins will have an uphill battle to establish the post as a significant local fixture.

We don’t have figures for the other contests yet. But rumour is the West Midlands saw high turnout in Tory areas, and low turnout in Labour ones. Which isn’t great news, if you’re Sion Simon.

In Cambridgeshire it’s all over the map:

High turnout in and around Cambridge is probably good news for the Labour and LibDem vote shares. But I would still be surprised if anyone but Tory James Palmer won this thing.

1024hrs

Oh, good lord:

Yes, this literally happened: the Tory and LibDem candidates were tied, so they drew straws to determine the election.

And so, because of the length of a straw, the Tories will not control Northumberland County Council.

Elections are stupid.

1007hrs

A friend writes:

Also thanks for getting the WECA [West of England] results wrong. You made me look stupid when I started talking about it. THANKS JONN

Any time.

0958hrs

We're not going to get the results from Manchester until the end of the day. But we do know the turnout: 28.9 percent, similar to the West of England, which I'd say is another “looks bad, actually probably isn't” sort of a figure.

We also, courtesy of the BBC, have a breakdown in each of the 10 boroughs:

One interesting/worrying thing about these results: turnout seems to have been higher in areas with more Tory voters. It was highest in Trafford, which is the only Tory-led council. It broke 30 per cent in Stockport and Bury, too, both of which have significant non-Labour factions.

The lowest turnouts – 26 per cent or below – were in Rochdale, Tameside and Oldham, all of which are about as safe Labour territory as you can get.

I doubt this will be enough for Andy Burnham to lose – but it’s probably not a great sign for Labour’s broader prospects.

Incidentally, turnout in Tory candidate Sean Anstee’s borough of Trafford was a lot higher than in Wigan, which contains Burnham’s Westminster seat of Leigh.

0915hrs

Good morning. If you're just joining us, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and god is clearly a Tory: Labour is sinking, UKIP is collapsing, and the LibDem recovery is about as substantial as Boris Johnson's principles.

The only metro mayor result we have so far: Conservative Tim Bowles is mayor of the West of England. He led Labour's Lesley Mansell 27 per cent to 22 per cent in the first round; then narrowly beat her, 52 to 48, after second preferences had been counted.

We're not expecting other metro mayors to be declared until mid afternoon:

1500hrs: Liverpool City Region.

1600hrs: Tees Valley; also another non-metro mayor, up the coast in North Tyneside.

1700hrs: Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

1800hrs: Greater Manchester and the  West Midlands.

If you want more on the local elections generally, check out Anoosh and Stephen's liveblog over on the mothership.

In the meantime, do Tweet or email me your spurious observations, theories and cute animal pics to give me something to do for the next six hours.

0900hrs

A reader writes:

A reader is correct: I buggered that one up. It's a typo, which is what happens when you get up stupidly early because your ego won't let you say no to an opportunity to go on the radio.

Anyway, I've now corrected the figures below. I am now back in New Statesman Towers, where my colleague Anoosh has taken over from Stephen on our local election liveblog and where, thankfully, there is coffee.

0810hrs

If you've ever wanted to hear someone try to explain the concepts of metro mayors and the supplementary vote system when it's 6am, they've been awake 10 minutes and have not even had a chance to make coffee, then do I have a treat for you. I was on the Jazz FM breakfast show. Check it out here.

0800hrs

The thought occurs that I made two specific predictions about the West of England race: that Labour were not in contention, and that there was no way the result would be out on time. I was wrong on both counts.

That's the kind of insight you can expect more of on this liveblog today.

0700hrs

Two more thoughts on the West of England result. 

This was a pretty good night for John Savage, an independent local businessman, who beat both Green and UKIP candidates to come fourth, with 15 per cent. It's a reminder that independents can and often do perform well in mayoral elections: think Ken Livingstone in London in 2000, or Stuart Drummond, who dressed as a H'Angus the Monkey to run for mayor of Hartlepool, won and served three terms. (Then the town voted to scrap the post, but, y'know.)

Someone who did not have a good night was UKIP's candidate Aaron Foote. He came last, and was the only candidate not to get over 10 per cent of the vote, winning just 4.2 per cent. If that trend is reflected nationwide - and it looks like it might be - then UKIP is all but finished.

0640hrs

I'm awake, I've not had any coffee, and the Conservative Tim Bowles has won the West of England mayoralty, so forgive me if I'm in a crappy mood.

Here, courtesy of the BBC, are the results:

  • Tim Bowles (Con) - 53,796 (27.3%)
  • Lesley Mansell (Lab) - 43,627 (22.2%)
  • Stephen Williams (LD) - 39,794 (20.2%)
  • John Savage (Ind) - 29,500 (15.0%)
  • Darren Hall (Grn) - 22,054 (11.2%)
  • Aaron Foot (UKIP) - 8,182 (4.2%)

Here are the number of second preference votes, from those who voted for losing candidates, cast for the top two:

  • Tim Bowles (Con) - 16,504 (42.5%)
  • Lesley Mansell (Lab) - 22,296 (57.5%)

And here's the final tally:

  • Tim Bowles (Con) - 70,300 (51.6%)
  • Lesley Mansell (Lab) - 65,923 (48.4%)
  • Here's the new mayor of the West of England, standing in a field:

Three things to say about this. One is that Labour's Lesley Mansell did significantly better than I'd given her credit for: I'd assumed, based on the geography and demographics of the region, that it was unpromising territory for Labour, and that it would be Tory vs LibDem in the run-off. 

In the event, it looks like turnout was higher in Bristol proper than in its less Labour-friendly suburbs. The fact Mansell got 48.4 per cent in the final round suggests that, on a better night for the party as a whole, Labour could have won.

Secondly - the supplementary vote system really came into play here. It's possible that there were vast numbers of second preference votes cast for the LibDem Stephen Williams, and that if he'd made the run-off he'd be mayor right now. But his second preferences never got counted because he didn't make the final two. To have a hope in this system, you need to come in the top two on first-preferences alone.

And finally, turnout was 29.3 per cent. That sounds pretty bad - but it's probably at the upper end of what we can expect for these new posts. Last night as I went to bed, there was talk of it being as low as 15 per cent in other regions. If the metro mayors generally were to get a turnout of around 30 per cent, that would actually bode pretty well for their legitimacy.

Anyway: one down, five to go. I'm off to get some coffee.


1830hrs

I’m probably going to sign off shortly, for the not entirely stupid reason that there aren’t going to be any results for another 12 hours and I have a life to lead. (I DO.)

We have, however, published profiles of each of the races over the last few months – so here’s a brief guide, with useful links, to keep you occupied until daybreak.

Liverpool City Region – Merseyside plus Halton (the Runcorn bit).

This is by far the most predictable of the races: it’s more likely that the earth will be consumed by fire overnight than that Labour’s Steve Rotheram will lose. The fun part will be watching what happens afterwards, when he has to contend with Joe Anderson, the elected mayor of Liverpool proper from the other wing of the Labour party.

Here’s Patrick Maguire’s profile of the election. Meanwhile, angry emailer Dave Mail makes the case for a bigger city region.

Greater Manchester.

Despite Andy Burnham’s habit of losing elections, he’s all but certain to triumph here, probably quite handsomely. None of the other candidates have even put up that much of a challenge.

Here’s my piece on the election from February. Just to spice things up, Mike brown asked all the candidates if they were planning to build a maglev to Leeds. (They’re not.)


West Midlands – that’s the Birmingham/Wolverhampton/Coventry conurbation.

Tricky one, this. Should be Labour’s Sion Simon’s to lose, but there’s been a strong challenge from the Conservative former chair of John Lewis, Andy Street. Could go either way, and the winner of the first round won’t necessarily win after second preferences have been counted.

Here’s my piece on the race, and David Barker’s guide to the local issues.

West of England – Bristol, Bath and around.

Another that’s too close to call. Labour isn’t in serious contention (sorry), but either Tory Tim Bowles or LibDem former minister Stephen Williams could pull it off. Both second preferences, and which parts of this diverse region turn out to vote, will have a big impact.

I profiled the region and the race; while the Centre for Cities’ Simon Jeffrey wrote about the local issues.

Tees Valley – Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington, et al.

Labour were worried about this one a couple of weeks back, but seem to have calmed down. The party’s candidate Sue Jeffrey has certainly been taking the election and the mayor’s powers far more seriously than her trolltastic rival, Tory Ben Houchen. (As Stephen said on our podcast today, “this election is literally Parks & Rec.”)

Here’s my piece on the race, and Simon Jeffrey’s on the issues.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

And finally, the non-city region.

Almost certain to be an easy victory for Tory James Palmer, despite attempts by various LibDems to point me towards bad smelling polling suggesting otherwise. It’s simply that too many of the region’s voters are a long way outside the country’s two cities.

Once again, I wrote about the race, while Simon covered the issues.

And that’s me done for the night. I’ll see you back here horrifically early tomorrow morning.

1755hrs

A question about these elections, which may affect both the results and the new mayors’ mandates is: how low will turnout be?

We can expect it to be low: turnout in the first London mayoral election back in 2000 was just 34 per cent (although it had climbed, bumpily, up to 45 per cent by last year). And that was an election which got a lot more attention than any of these had.

But how low is low? Reports today suggest that many polling stations have seen more tumbleweed than people. One candidate in the West Midlands told me they expected it to be as low as 20 per cent. Even that may be optimistic: in 2012, turnout for the newly formed police & crime commissioners was just 15 per cent.

Figures like that would have two implications. One of is that it makes them less predictable: the lower turnout is, the more likely the results are to detach from models based on past polls.

The other is about legitimacy. Should Labour win most of these contests, it’ll be easier for Theresa May to dismiss them as an irrelevance if they were elected on a low turnout. If hardly anyone votes today, that could make it less likely the new mayors will accrue more powers – and more likely, even, to face swift abolition.

1635hrs

But Jonn, who do you think is going to win, I hear literally nobody ask? Helpfully, this is exactly what I discuss on our latest podcast, along with Stephen Bush and Patrick Maguire. I also talk driverless cars with the Guardian tech correspondent Alex Hern. Check it out here, or listen below.

1520hrs

So when can we expect results? Here's a rough timetable:

0500hrs: West of England – although my colleague Stephen Bush has noted that Bristol has never declared an election on time in its life, so it's not worth staying up all night for.

0530hrs: Doncaster – not a metro mayor; the south Yorkshire city has had a mayor since 2002. But in the name of completism, here it is.

...then there's rather a large gap, before we get to:

1500hrs: Liverpool City Region.

1600hrs: Tees Valley; also another non-metro mayor, up the coast in North Tyneside.

1700hrs: Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

1800hrs: Greater Manchester and, the grand finale, West Midlands.

So why, if we're more than 12 hours away from anything interesting happening, have I started liveblogging, I hear you ask? Why is water wet? Why is the sky blue? Why aren't unicorns?

I make bad choices okay. 

1455hrs

The next question, of course, is who's going to win. Given that we're not going to see any results for another 14 hours, and that's if we're lucky, we're probably going to be speculating about this rather a lot.

Luckily, though, we have experts on hand to help out on that one. Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher are professors of politics at Plymouth University, who've been analysing elections since the 1980s. Here, courtesy of Charlie Cadywould on Twitter, is their best guess:

The West Midlands there is the one that surprises me. If pushed, I'd guess the Conservative Andy Street would win the first round, but then lose to Labour's Sion Simon once the second preferences had been counted. Rallings and Thrasher are predicing the exact opposite.

Admittedly they've got 30 years experience of this stuff, and I'm a guy with a blog and a near 100 per cent record of calling elections wrongly, but nonetheless.

1425hrs

The first question is – which regions are actually getting a mayor?

Here, courtesy of the Centre for Cities, is a helpful map, showing the six mayoralties up for grabs: the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, West of England (Bristol etc), Tees Valley (Middlesbrough etc) and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

 

The bar charts show the way the various region's voted in the 2015 general election. That was two years ago, though, since when the Tories have surged, Labour and UKIP have fallen back. The LibDems have probably recovered a bit, too, but we won't know that until later.

At any rate – while it looks like it should be four easy wins for Labour, they may be under pressure in both the West Midlands and the Tees Valley.

That said, these elections are using a preferential voting rather than first-past-the-post, and it's not clear where the Tories' second preferences will come from. It's entirely possible that the Tory candidates Andy Street (in the West Midlands) and Ben Houchen (in Tees Valley) win the most first preference votes – but still go on to lose.

See? This is *exciting*.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook


 
 
 
 

Was the decline in Liverpool’s historic population really that unusual?

A view of Liverpool from Birkenhead. Image: Getty.

It is often reported that Liverpool’s population halved after the 1930s. But is this true? Or is it a myth?

Often, it’s simply assumed that it’s true. The end. Indeed, proud Londoner Lord Adonis – a leading proponent of the Liverpool-bypassing High Speed 2 railway, current chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, and generally a very influential person – stood on the stairs in Liverpool Town Hall in 2011 and said:

“The population of Liverpool has nearly halved in the last 50 years.”

This raises two questions. Firstly, did the population of the City of Liverpool really nearly halve in the 50 year period to 2011? That’s easy to check using this University of Portsmouth website – so I did just that (even though I knew he was wrong anyway). In 2011, the population of the City of Liverpool was 466,415. Fifty years earlier, in 1961, it was 737,637, which equates to a 37 per cent drop. Oops!

In fact, the City of Liverpool’s peak population was recorded in the 1931 Census as 846,302. Its lowest subsequent figure was recorded in the 2001 Census as 439,428 – which represents a 48 per cent decline from the peak population, over a 70 year period.

Compare this to the population figures for the similarly sized City of Manchester. Its peak population also recorded in the 1931 Census as 748,729, and its lowest subsequent figure was also recorded in the 2001 Census, as 392,830. This also represents a 48 per cent decline from the peak population, over the same 70 year period.

So, as can be seen here, Liverpool is not a special case at all. Which makes me wonder why it is often singled out or portrayed as exceptional in this regard, in the media and, indeed, by some badly briefed politicians. Even London has a similar story to tell, and it is told rather well in this recent article by a Londoner, for the Museum of London. (Editor’s note: It’s one of mine.)

This leads me onto the second question: where have all those people gone: London? The Moon? Mars?

Well, it turns out that the answer is bit boring and obvious actually: after World War 2, lots of people moved to the suburbs. You know: cars, commuter trains, slum clearance, the Blitz, all that stuff. In other words, Liverpool is just like many other places: after the war, this country experienced a depopulation bonanza.


So what form did this movement to the suburbs take, as far as Liverpool was concerned? Well, people moved and were moved to the suburbs of Greater Liverpool, in what are now the outer boroughs of the city region: Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral. Others moved further, to Cheshire West & Chester, West Lancashire, Warrington, even nearby North Wales, as previously discussed here.

In common with many cities, indeed, Liverpool City Council actually built and owned large several ‘New Town’ council estates, to which they moved tens of thousands of people to from Liverpool’s inner districts: Winsford in Cheshire West (where comedian John Bishop grew up), Runcorn in Halton (where comedian John Bishop also grew up), Skelmersdale in West Lancashire, Kirkby in Knowsley. There is nothing unique or sinister here about Liverpool (apart from comedian John Bishop). This was common practice across the country – Indeed, it was central government policy – and resulted in about 160,000 people being ‘removed’ from the Liverpool local authority area.

Many other people also moved to the nearby suburbs of Greater Liverpool to private housing – another trend reflected across the country. It’s worth acknowledging, however, that cities across the world are subject to a level of ‘churn’ in population, whereby many people move out and many people move in, over time, too.

So how did those prominent images of derelict streets in the inner-city part of the City of Liverpool local authority area come about? For that, you have to blame the last Labour government’s over-zealous ‘Housing Market Renewal Initiative’ (HMRI) disaster – and the over enthusiastic participation of the then-Lib Dem controlled city council. On the promise of ‘free’ money from central government, the latter removed hundreds of people from their homes with a view to demolishing the Victorian terraces, and building new replacements. Many of these houses, in truth, were already fully modernised, owner-occupied houses within viable and longstanding communities, as can be seen here in Voelas Street, one of the famous Welsh Streets of Liverpool:

Voelas Street before HMRI implementation. Image: WelshStreets.co.uk.

The same picture after HMRI implementation Image: WelshStreets.co.uk. 

Nonetheless: the council bought the houses and ‘tinned them up’ ready for demolition. Then the coalition Conservative/Lib Dem government, elected in 2010, pulled the plug on the scheme. 

Fast forward to 2017 and many of the condemned houses have been renovated, in a process which is still ongoing. These are over-subscribed when they come to market, suggesting that the idea was never appropriate for Liverpool on that scale. 

At any rate, it turns out that the Liverpool metropolitan population is pretty much the same as it was at its peak in 1931 (depending where the local borough boundaries are arbitrarily drawn). It just begs the question: why are well educated and supposedly clever people misrepresenting the Liverpool metropolis, in particular, in this way so often? Surely they aren’t stupid are they?


And why are some people so determined to always isolate the City of Liverpool from its hinterland, while London is always described in terms of its whole urban area? It just confuses and undermines what would otherwise often be worthwhile comparisons and discussions. Or, to put it another way: “never, ever, compare apples with larger urban zones”.

In a recent Channel 4 documentary, for example, the well-known and respected journalist Michael Burke directly compared the forecast population growths, by 2039, of the City of Liverpool single local authority area against that of the combined 33 local authority areas of Greater London: 42,722 versus 2.187,708. I mean, what bizarre point is such an inappropriate comparison even trying to make? It is like comparing the projected growth of a normal sized-person’s head with the projected growth of the whole of an obese person, over a protracted period.

Having said all that, there is an important sensible conversation to be had as to why the populations of the Greater Liverpool metropolis and others haven’t grown as fast as maybe should have been the case, whilst, in recent times, the Greater London population has been burgeoning. But constantly pitching it as some sort of rare local apocalypse helps no one.

Dave Mail has declared himself CityMetric’s Liverpool City Region correspondent. He will be updating us on the brave new world of Liverpool City Region, mostly monthly, in ‘E-mail from Liverpool City Region’ and he is on twitter @davemail2017.