What Greater Manchester local election results say about Labour, according to local leaders

The leaders of the two cities in Greater Manchester were asked what these local elections say about the Labour Party nationally.

Labour lost seats in both of Greater Manchester’s cities at the local elections.

In Salford, the ruling group was ‘disappointed’ after losing three seats despite retaining a strong majority at the council where they still have 49 councillors.

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Meanwhile in Manchester, the largest Labour group in the country still holds 92 out of 96 seats – although the Greens gained a councillor in Wythenshawe.

Elsewhere in Greater Manchester, there were mixed results for the party which retained eight boroughs while Stockport Council remains in no overall control.

Speaking after the results, the leaders of the two cities in Greater Manchester were asked what these local elections say about the Labour Party nationally.

Manchester City Council leader Coun Bev Craig

Manchester city council leader Bev Craig, who took over from Sir Richard Leese in December when he ended his 25-year reign at the town hall, said that the Labour Party nationally now has a more positive image than it had previously.

She said: “Not everybody agrees with it – some people may wish it was a radical party like they saw under Jeremy Corbyn.

“But the vast majority of people that I’ve spoken to want competency and want safety and we’ve lived in such turbulent and difficult times that people just want a grown-up to sensibly steer the ship.

“For some of the real dangers and issues –  from recovering from the pandemic to the cost of living crisis with rising inflation and the war of Ukraine – we need some serious policies with serious answers, not just for today and tomorrow.

“But that’s what people are starting to see for the Labour Party and I think the Labour Party is now on a journey to get itself ready for the next election and we’ll do all we can here in Manchester to support them.”

However, senior councillors in her administration said traditional Labour voters – including those from white working class and ethnic minorities backgrounds – do not like party leader Sir Keir Starmer because he is not a ‘true socialist’.

The Lib Dems, who came close to winning a second seat in Ancoats and Beswick following a surprise by-election win in February, have reported a similar dislike of the Labour leader in the city’s working class communities.

In Salford, Labour lost two seats to the Lib Dems – in Ordsall and the Quays – and failed to hold onto the typically Tory ward of Worsley and Westwood Park.

Salford’s Labour mayor Paul Dennett at the local elections 2022. Credit: LDRS.

Salford mayor Paul Dennett, who describes himself as a ‘sensible socialist’, said the Labour Party’s lack of clarity on national policies has not helped.

He said: “Clearly, at the moment I personally feel we could be in a better situation in terms of having absolute clarity on what our policy position is on a whole range of different policies and issues when we’re knocking on doors, talking to residents to bolster what we’re trying to do locally.

“At the moment we don’t have absolute clarity on all of that and clearly that will have a bearing when talking about what does the Labour Party stand for moving into a general election in the not so distant future.”

Labour still holds 49 out of 60 councillors at Salford Council, while the Tories have eight, the Lib Dems have two and one seat is held by an independent.