Liverpool’s opposition miss huge opportunity as Labour stay top

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If this was a normal election, Liverpool's opposition parties might be quite content with how today played out.

But it wasn't.

After all, it is not very often that the serving Mayor of a city – a man who is synonymous with the ruling party – is arrested and forced to withdraw from an election.

And it's not every year that a government inspection of a council results in one of the worst ever indictments of a local authority and the administration that has been running – so much so that commissioners are ordered in to oversee key areas.

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Make no mistake, the events of the past few months in Liverpool have been seismic – but for whatever reason the election that followed them has not been.

For Labour in Liverpool to emerge from today with a mayoral victory and the loss of just three seats in the south of the city can only be described as a good result considering the turmoil it has faced in recent months.

And when you look at the numbers across the country – including damaging defeats in the Hartlepool by-election and the loss of several councils – party bosses may actually look upon Liverpool as one of the high points of a miserable day.

For Liverpool's opposition parties it is a huge missed opportunity.

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In terms of the mayoralty, of course Labour's vote share was down on four years ago, how could it not be? But Joanne Anderson still ran out a fairly comfortable victor on the second round with nearly 46,500 votes.

Much credit must go to independent candidate and charity founder Stephen Yip, who only decided to enter the political fray at the end of February.

To come from a standing start, without the backing of a major political party machine, and secure 32,000 votes and a strong second place is an achievement he should be very proud of.

And Labour must not lose sight of the fact that 32,000 people voted for a non-politician who was campaigning largely on an anti-corruption ticket – that message must hit home.

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While Lib Dem chief Richard Kemp's vote increased slightly from 2016 to reach 17,166 – he will certainly be disappointed to have found himself in third place and so far away from that Labour figure.

Tom Crone of the Greens saw his vote share go down from 2016 in an election where he too would have wanted to show signs of growth when battling a heavily wounded Labour party.

Big questions will now be asked about why those seeking to remove Labour from the mayoral office after recent events didn't get their heads together to form an electoral pact that could have made this a much closer contest.

Questions remain too for the Lib Dems at a council level.

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Yes, they picked up Labour seats in Cressington, Mossley Hill and Childwall – but again these feel like decent gains in a normal electoral cycle, rather that at a point in time described by one source as 'a once in a generation opportunity'.

That opportunity perhaps should have seen the Lib Dems conquer Wavertree (they were well beaten into third place) – and be targeting the likes of Knotty Ash and West Derby, but Labour were unchallenged in those areas.

The Greens will have thought they had a good chance in Greenbank as well, but lost out to Labour by more than 600 votes.

All in all this feels like a missed opportunity for Liverpool's opposition parties – but they will still have crucial roles to play in holding Labour to account as the party begins what it says will be a new dawn in charge of Liverpool Council.

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