The West Midlands Mayoral Election: A Breakdown
The 2021 West Midlands mayoral election will take place on the 6th of May 2021 to elect the mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority. This will only be the second election of its kind after 2017. The Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 introduced directly elected mayors to combined local authorities with the West Midlands being one. The mayor is elected by voters in the metropolitan boroughs of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Mayors of these combined authorities have been given the devolved powers of local transport, housing, skills, healthcare and funding.
Elections for mayors in England and Wales use the Supplementary Vote system (SV). This system produces a single winner. Voters are given a first and second preference choice; if one candidate receives over 50% of the first preference votes, then they are declared the winner. However, if no candidate gets over this threshold then all but the top two candidates are eliminated, and the second preference votes are counted. The second preference votes for the top two candidates are added to their respective scores and whoever receives the most votes after this is elected to the position.
The previous and inaugural West Midlands mayoral election took place in 2017. The election was won by the Conservative candidate Andy Street who beat Labour’s Siôn Simon in the final round of the SV vote. The total turnout for this election was 26.7%.
Figure 1: West Midlands Mayoral election results 2017, West Midlands Combined Authority
For the upcoming election, the Conservatives have put Andy Street back up for re-election. One of Andy Street’s major plans is to expand the Metro and Rail services in the West Midlands by 2040. This would see the creation of a ‘Tube-style map of the West Midlands.’
Andy Street has also set targets of delivering 215,000 homes in the city region by 2030 as well as the West Midlands being carbon neutral by 2041.
Liam Byrne, who is currently the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, won the race to be Labour's candidate. So far, Byrne has said that he aims to tackle the moral emergency of homelessness, hungry families and cuts to disabilities. He also wants to start a Green Industrial Revolution that will not only create jobs but will also help decarbonisation and bring about more justice. Lastly, he wishes to work on the social solidarity in the region and build a tight-knit community of people from all backgrounds.
The Liberal Democrats have selected Jenny Wilkinson to run for mayor in the area. She has said that she would focus on the core themes of transport, skills and lifelong learning, housing and homelessness during the election campaign.
Two independent candidates, Ashvir Sangha and Tim Weller are also running for the position. Ashvir is running on a platform of transforming the role of the mayor by banning six-figure salaries in the Mayor’s Office and reinvesting the savings back into the community. He also wishes to implement a new COVID strategy which prioritises the recovery of the economy and hospitality sector and one that protects the most vulnerable in society. His slogan for the campaign is “Our West Midlands''.
Tim Weller is an environmental campaigner whose primary policy is on changing transport in the region. He wants to scrap the Metro extension and instead give everyone free bus and rail travel.
The Green Party have not yet announced their candidate for the area. When they do The Youth Vote will keep you updated.
These combined authority mayoral elections are very important. Although they don’t get as much media coverage as General Elections they are still important, and it is vital that young people have their voices heard not just at the national level but also the local level. Decisions made by politicians at local levels will directly impact the lives of the young people living in those areas and so we here at the Youth Vote encourage young people in the West Midlands to engage with politics and engage with the upcoming mayoral election so you can have your voices heard.
Register to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Jonas Volkwein, Head of Policy and News Analysis