Energetic Labour campaigns see off Tory threats in Greater Manchester
If success is defined as results minus expectation, Greater Manchester can only be seen as a thumping victory for the Labour Party. In April, with a promised landslide on the horizon, the Conservative party electoral machine targeted any seats in the region with less than a 5,000-vote majority. Familiar figures such as Johnny Reynolds, Ivan Lewis, Barbara Keeley and even Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams were all Tory targets.
How different things looked the morning after. As Greater Manchester followed the country in realigning toward two-party politics, all incumbent Labour MPs saw their majorities rise steeply and the smaller parties suffered. The greatest swings were seen in south of the region while in the de-industrialised communities of Bolton and Wigan it was less apparent. Bury North, held by Tory MP David Nuttall since 2010, in the end proved the only seat to change hands with an energetic local Labour campaign catapulting former councillor James Frith to victory. Between Mayor Andy Burnham’s resounding success in May and 8th June’s results, Greater Manchester has confirmed, if they were ever in any doubt, its Labour credentials.
How does this translate into devolved politics? There is a danger that the Labour dominance in the North West will lead a preoccupied and defensive May government to continue its preoccupation with the more electorally attractive West Midlands or indeed tempt them to step away from the agenda altogether. GMCA and Andy Burnham should dispense with their more combative language and instead articulate the areas where local and central government can cooperate. With Gavin Barwell moving to No 10 and Sajid Javid only reluctantly allowed to retain his position, a DCLG in flux will surely welcome the reconciliation.
Read about the 2017 General Election results for every region in the UK, with analysis from our DevoIntelligence Panel here.