This Life or That’s Life! – another episode in the mayoral campaign
Kevin Johnson rounds up the latest efforts to give the mayoral campaigns lift off.
Liberal Democrat candidate Beverley Nielsen featured on yesterday’s regional opt of the BBC’s Sunday Politics with enthusiastic backing for a second runway at Birmingham Airport.
“By integrating the HS2 interchange station into the airport, aligning it with runway 2 and ensuring it is linked to the rest of the airport, road and rail infrastructure,” she says “we can offer a transformative solution for both the Midlands and the rest of the country.”
On the programme, Ms Nielsen looked to align herself with connectivity and growth, allowing Solihull’s Greens to say they were surprised to see her jettisoning the Lib Dems’s traditional “eco” credentials.
The Lib Dem candidate was in full “hub busting” mode when she spoke to Elizabeth Glinka.
There’s an additional factor in the connectivity equation.
We now have hub busters. They can go point-to-point…much longer distance. That’s going to allow the entry of low cost airlines. So it’s not just about big business, it’s about residents, about much greater choice for our people…
Once we’ve got HS2, we can get people moving up the country.
Meanwhile, Conservative candidate Andy Street is starting his final week as John Lewis boss, with the retailer having just opened it latest store in Leeds. It gave the energetic Mr Street an opportunity for a feature in The Times.
Commenting on his crowning as candidate at the party’s conference in Symphony Hall at the beginning of October, he said:
It was wonderful to have home advantage. I will admit when I walked on the stage I did a ‘oh my god’ moment, but then I thought: ‘Right, come on Street.’
The article continued:
Some John Lewis colleagues question whether he has the right temperament for a career as a politician.
His answer is emphatic: “I’m not going to be an MP. It is a particular role. It is about being leader, ambassador, representative. It is about working across all the different colours of politicians in that area. “It is not about running a regime full of Tories and nothing else. Can I bring people together in that consensual way? Yes I can.”
The column by Richard Fletcher in the Thunderer’s Working Life strand continued:
Mr Street believes that he needs only a four-point swing from the last general election result to win. “I happen to think we have got every chance of winning. It is not just about national polling. Can I present as someone capable of doing this particular job? I hope I can..
But what if he loses? What next for a hyperactive retailer who has always insisted that he would never work for anyone but John Lewis?
“I’m going to throw myself into this campaign for seven months and then we will see. I am very fatalistic about it. I am just going to see what happens. There is no Plan B. That is quite liberating after 30 years of structure.”
But it was Mr Street’s choice of favourite TV programme that caused most controversy on Twitter. This Life, the BBC2 series that centred on the life of five twentysomething law graduates embarking upon their careers while sharing a house in south London, was confused with That’s Life! in the online version of the story, apparently.
The print version says ‘This Life’, the online version ‘That’s Life!’ @hwallop
— Andy Street (@andy4wm) October 22, 2016
But his interview in the Solihull Observer is perhaps more interesting.
In two words, proven experience…
Was his answer to interviewer Lauren Clarke when asked why he thinks he’s the right man for the job.
Mr Street will be calling on his experience running a business and heading up a LEP to make his case. But he will be stressing his skills in bringing people together as his greatest asset.
He will be highlighting his ability to work with people across the West Midlands and across parties as the main reason to be elected mayor.
I’m standing as a party candidate yes, but this isn’t like national government where you have all people of one party delivering – it’s about leading something that is cross party.
I think that me not coming from politics also gives me an advantage over the other candidates because the person who wins has to be someone who brings everybody together and I genuinely believe that although I have stood as the Conservative candidate that people will be able to see me as my primary calling card – as Andy Street, who has run business and headed up the LEP.
He used the interview to confirm that he will not only release a manifesto for the region as a whole but will lay out his promises for each council – responding to specific problems felt in each area.
At the moment we do not have someone to represent the West Midlands region around the country and the rest of the world – it’s the person that would go to China or meet with foreign investors.
And I think I have the experience that sets me up to do that.
It’s also about being the person who lobbies on the people’s behalf in Government – unlocking money, opportunities and investment from Westminster, and I think my experience as LEP chair has proven that I can do that.
It is likely that Siôn Simon’s campaign will look to make Mr Street’s track record at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) less of an asset for the Conservative candidate. GBSLEP policies will be put under the spotlight by the Labour team and it is anticipated that Mr Simon will remind voters that the LEP has applied much of its focus to Birmingham city centre.
Mr Street’s energy and force of personality are major factors in attracting support, particularly from business circles. But Mr Street’s leadership style and local political support could also become an electoral battleground.
Mr Simon will be looking for the council leaders who sit around the WMCA table, most but not all of whom are Labour, to actively and enthusiastically back his campaign. It is not clear how much current WMCA chair and Solihull leader Cllr Bob Sleigh will be doing on the campaign trail for Mr Street.
As we never tire of reminding people, it will not be in The Times, Solihull Observer, Sunday Politics or even the Chamberlain Files where this election will be won and lost (important though each are in their own ways!) but out there on the trail.
As the world now knows, ‘Brenda from Bristol’ – or #Brenda4PM or Brenda “Not another
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They say (or at least Harold Wilson did) that a week is a long time
Beverley Nielsen will be the latest Mayoral candidate to publish her manifesto today when she
The search to find a permanent chief executive for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)