PEOPLE in Liverpool are getting their first chance in four years to give their verdict on Joe Anderson’s first term as directly elected mayor of Liverpool.
In a city where Labour rules supreme it is hard to see Mayor Anderson being unseated, but the level of the votes he receives will be regarded by some as a judgement on his sometimes controversial stewardship.
In 2012, the then Labour Council Leader won 58,448 votes, just under 60 percent of the total cast. His nearest contender, former BBC man Liam Fogarty, was runner up with fewer than 8,300 votes, representing just over 8 percent of the votes.
Richard Kemp is chasing votes as a mayoral candidate, insisting that many of the party supporters who abandoned the Lib Dems after their Coalition pact with the Tories, are 'coming home'
The Lib Dem leader in Liverpool, Cllr Richard Kemp, was third with 6,238, or 6.33 percent of the votes.
It meant that in 2012 Mayor Anderson was the victor on the first count, having won more than 50 percent of all of those cast.
If the mayor’s support among the electorate holds or improves it will be a glowing endorsement of Mayor Anderson.
If, however, his support falls, particularly if it goes to a second count after the polling stations close at 10pm on Thursday, it will be seen by some as a condemnation of his rule.
Certainly Richard Kemp is chasing votes as a mayoral candidate, insisting that many of the party supporters who abandoned the Lib Dems after their Coalition pact with the Tories, are “coming home”.
Leaflets produced by the Lib Dems bear the hallmarks of the hard-hitting Focus communiques famed in the no-punches-pulled days of “Jones the Vote”. It was three decades ago that Sir Trevor Jones and a group of Liberals (as it was then) challenged the Labour stronghold at the Town Hall.
It led to the Lib Dems holding 70 of the seats in the council chamber, only to see their grip collapse when the party faithful punished Nick Clegg for his dalliance with the Conservatives under David Cameron.
Currently there are just two Lib Dems in the council chamber, Richard Kemp and his wife, former Lord Mayor Erica Kemp.
This time Mrs Kemp is standing down, handing the challenge to former councillor Andrew Makinson.
If the trend of the past few years continues, which has seen Labour winning virtually everything in sight, it would mean Richard Kemp becoming the sole voice in the council chamber.
The Lib Dems, though, are confident they will pick up some seats in Thursday’s council elections.
Labour today has 79 councillors and there are two vacant seats, previously held by Labour. Even if the Lib Dem predictions of some successes is correct, Labour will remain all powerful in the city.
Election watchers will also eagerly await the result in Tuebrook ward where veteran Councillor Steve Radford, from the minority Liberal Party, is up for re-election. A year ago Labour snatched the seat from what had been seen as the city’s Liberal stronghold.
The Conservatives, extinct from the city council for many years, are also hopeful of making progress in the suburbs of south Liverpool.
Voters in Liverpool on Thursday will be choosing their local councillors, their elected mayor and the police and crime commissioner, a job currently held by former Labour Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy.
The Green Party, with four councillors, is the official opposition. That’s a sign of how strong Labour is in Liverpool, but the Greens hope to make further inroads into that grip on power.
The current make up on the city council is: Labour 79, Greens 4, Lib Dems 2, Liberals 2, Independent 1, with 2 vacant seats previously held by Labour. There are 90 seats in the chamber, with 32 elections on Thursday.