Labour’s Joe Anderson has been elected Liverpool’s first mayor with 58,450 votes – nearly 60 per cent – but a disappointing turnout of 31.2 per cent that will cast doubt on the city’s desire for an elected mayor.
The count did not go down to second preference votes as Anderson won more than 50 per cent of the vote, meaning no need for second-preference votes that may have benfited other candidates.
Anderson won the mayoral race ahead of the independent Liam Fogarty, who has campaigned for a Liverpool mayor for several years and was fancied as a potential upset candidate, and Liberal Democrat Richard Kemp, who attracted 8,292 and 6,238 votes respectively.
Tony Mulhearn of the left-wing Trade Union and Socialist Coalition recorded 4,792 votes, with Liberal Steve Radford close with 4,442 votes.
It was a disappointing night for local businessman and Conservative candidate Tony Caldeira and the Greens’ John Coyne. Caldeira was sixth with 4,425 votes. Coyne, who came top in a SevenStreets poll was placed fourth with 5,175 votes.
Anderson’s victory crowned what looks to be a strong night for Labour, who made huge gains in local elections in the Merseyside region, generally at the expense of the Lib Dems.
It was a disastrous night for Liverpool’s Liberal Democrats in local elections, with the party losing a number of seats to Labour across the region.
Turn-out was up on 2011 elections, bolstering Labour’s claims to a strong mandate to govern the city.
Meanwhile Liverpool’s new mayor said he would fight for the city and prioritise investment. Anderson’s victory brings to an end a campaign that was by turns thoroughly dull and astonishingly bizarre.
The count – at Wavertree Tennis Club – was marred by protests from various far right groups, apparently intent on getting themselves ejected from the count for publicity purposes. Both far right candidates, the BNP’s Mike Whitby and the National Front’s Peter Quiggins (Pete Tierney) are currently out on police bail.
Whitby was arrested for alleged irregularities relating to his mayoral nomination, while Tierney was charged with a public order offence this week. Both were still able to stand in the mayoral contest.
The contest was not without other oddities. Brookside creator Phil Redmond repeatedly teased his own candidacy before bailing out. Celebrity hairdresser Herbert Howe withdrew from the contest after implying that he had been threatened by unnamed sources, though a lukewarm launch party for his candidacy is thought to have had a part to play too.
Meanwhile, at a candidates debate, independent candidate Jeff Berman was ejected after being denied a place on stage.
Four of the mayoral candidates stated that they did not want the job as described, after outer Merseyside boroughs rejected having a Liverpool-centric mayor as a mayor of Merseyside.
The election was brought ahead when the Labour-led council decided to bypass a referendum on an elected mayor – as has been the case across other parts of the UK – to the dismay of some candidates.
Eyebrows were also raised by the exclusively white and male range of candidates.
Anderson was never seriously threatened, with the outcome considered a foregone conclusion. He now has a small pot of cash to lavish on the city – and has promised 20,000 new jobs.
If Liverpool is consistent it will regard its new mayor as it regarded the campaign; with indifference.