Councillor Sean Anstee, Leader of Trafford Council, has confirmed his bid to become the Conservative candidate for Greater Manchester’s mayoral election in May.
Declaring his bid in an interview with the MEN this week, Anstee said that his mayoralty would prioritise giving young people ‘the right start in life’ and ensure that none of the residents of Greater Manchester would be left behind by devolution.
Anstee has been involved with devolution processes from the outset, taking part in negotiations with Whitehall, and as lead for Skills on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Whatever happens in the election, he will be sat around the 11-person decision making table, either as Trafford council leader, or as the Greater Manchester Mayor.
Raised on a council estate in Trafford and entering politics after working in Manchester’s growing financial sector, Anstee became a councillor aged 20 and went onto become the youngest council leader in the country aged 26. He intends to build his campaign around these local roots: “Many people in the north used to feel the Labour party represented them, but no longer feel that’s the case,” he said. His approach comes in a stark contrast to Andy Burnham’s suggestion that the mayoralty was a ‘cabinet level job, that requires cabinet level experience’.
While Anstee’s task is formidable, he leads the only Conservative-majority council in Greater Manchester, and maintains it is not insurmountable. Speaking to the Guardian he said that, “It’s… obvious that it’s going to be tough, but I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think it was winnable.” While Burnham remains the strong favourite, Anstee, well-versed in the operations of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, comfortable conversing with the business community and a strong advocate for LGBT rights and representation, has the potential to appeal to a range of groups in the electorate.
Anstee is currently uncontested in his bid to be the Conservative candidate, and given the scale of the task, may well remain so. If he seals the nomination, he will join the Liberal Democrat candidate Trafford councillor, Jane Brophy; the Manchester Greens candidate, Deyika Nzeribe; as well as Labour’s Andy Burnham. Nominations close on 14 October.