Throughout the United Kingdom this election season, some of the biggest races are those for the regional metro Mayors. London may have more candidates than any other race, but few are as interest or closely fought as the race to be the next West Midlands Mayor.
In 2017, Conservative candidate Andy Street pulled off what many considered to be a shocking result, managing to win a West Midlands mayoralty in a region that many expected Labour to comfortably win. Andy Street won by the finest of margins, gaining 50.4% of the vote in the final round.
Having spent four years in office, Street has managed to fulfil many of his election promises, securing significant investment into the region being chief among them. However, this does not mean that he is nailed on to win re-election, and faces an extremely tough contest from a fairly packed field.
Andy Street – Conservatives
The former John Lewis managing director is considered to be amongst a more progressive brand of Conservative politicians that emerged in the mid-2010s, with Ruth Davidson in Scotland and fellow metro mayor candidate (for the Tees Valley) Ben Houchen, also proving popular. He won election on a promise of investment and is once again seeking to play a role in the levelling up agenda to bring the region greater economic growth. However, he also promised to end homelessness in his term, with the figure doubling under his leadership, resulting in heavy criticism from his rivals.
Liam Byrne – Labour
A sitting Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, Byrne emerged victorious in a controversial selection process for the Labour Party candidate, with fellow candidate Salma Yaqoob being accused of endorsing “misogyny, patriarchy and biradri politics” by Labour MP Naz Shah. Byrne was selected as a more centrist candidate, but is also endorsed by left-wing, former shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, and is a popular figure on the left who will prove a formidable opponent to Street.
Jenny Wilkinson – Liberal Democrats
Jenny Wilkinson is a serial candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the West Midlands, having stood for European Parliament and two general elections in the region since 2017. Like Luisa Porritt in London, Wilkinson was not the original candidate, with Beverley Nielsen, the party’s 2017 candidate and original pick stepping down over difficulty managing the balance of campaigning, before leaving the party altogether. Nielsen is now on the opposing side to her successor, working as the climate advisor to Labour’s Liam Byrne, with some suggesting this could help direct some Liberal Democrat votes in his direction, potentially significant in a close race.
Steve Caudwell – Green Party
Yet another candidate who was not the original pick, Caldwell stepped up in January 2021 after the original candidate resigned to form an independent group within the local council. The Green Party, unlike in London, are not expected to mount a serious third-party challenge, lacking the name recognition of Sian Berry.
Pete Durnell – Reform UK
Reform UK are Nigel Farage’s newest project, even though he has officially retired from politics to take up a Cameo career. The party were originally registered as the Brexit Party, but have rebranded since the United Kingdom left the EU. Durnell was the UKIP candidate in 2017, back when that was Farage’s project, and has seamlessly transitioned into the latest endeavour.