A week of political overhaul got off to a hectic start on Monday, when Sajid Javid became the new Home Secretary following the resignation of Amber Rudd – later that day it was announced that James Brokenshire would replace Javid at MHCLG. You can learn more about the new Secretary of State here.
At Iceni we have also been thinking about upcoming Local Elections, where Labour are touted to be big winners. Yet we believe the real story is more likely to be one of internal changes rather than potential big wins and what this could mean for the property sector.
London, with all 32 boroughs’ up for election, has been the focus of much media attention. Popular commentators are saying this will be Labour’s chance to win big, riding on the high of the General Election last year and the Brexit vote the year before. However, while Labour’s vote share will surely increase, we’re not so sure that it’s going to mean big changes in Council leadership.
Yes, Barnet should be an easy win with just a handful of seats needed to take overall control. But, other targets like Westminster, Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea all need big turnarounds to take control. This isn’t to say that the Council’s will not be more finely balanced, but drastic change is going to take some momentous results, which aren’t predicted in the polls.
More interesting, is where the Labour party is changing internally. Nowhere has been talked about more than Haringey, where the left wing of the party has deselected most existing Councillors. Southwark has also seen a groundswell from the left of the party, with three Cabinet members not standing for re-election and Newham is going to see its first new Leader in 23 years. These changes may prove to be the real story of these elections, with new directions from Councils and new challenges for developers.
In Greater Manchester Labour could finally turn the whole region red, should they overturn a 3 seat Conservative majority in Trafford. Labour hopes are high after Andy Burnham comfortably won the support of the Borough in last year’s Mayoral election; this victory was aided by Conservative candidate (and Leader of Trafford Council) Sean Anstee’s public support for the unpopular first draft of the GMSF.
In Manchester itself it is again internal Labour battles attracting attention. With Labour currently holding 95 of the 96 seats, frustration has been growing amongst Momentum backed candidates over what they see as an over friendly approach to developers – they now seem intent on providing their own form of opposition. The selection process saw a number of high profile Labour moderates deselected, forming part of a long-term strategy to change the political direction of the council.
Momentum could also influence results in Wirral, although not in the way they intended. Public criticism of the Labour group’s leadership from Momentum, along with the Government’s threat of intervention on their Local Plan, has led some to suggest Labour’s majority could be reduced.
Finally, the inaugural Sheffield City Region Mayoral election should see Labour MP Dan Javis elected comfortably. Tougher battles no doubt lie ahead, as he pushes the Government to devolve similar powers to those of his former Labour parliamentary colleagues Burnham and Rotheram.