Given the government’s enthusiasm for city region elected mayors, it might seem odd that the first metro mayor should be unelected, but the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has led the pack in securing a radical devolution deal from Whitehall, and was told that it needed someone in place to lead this pending an election in 2017.
This figurehead had to be appointed by the conurbation’s 10 council leaders, and with eight of them Labour they were pretty much bound to be drawn from that party.
Tony Lloyd (Lab) was elected as Greater Manchester’s police and crime commissioner in 2012 – a post that would be subsumed into the mayoralty – and before that served since 1983 successively as MP for the area’s Stretford and Manchester Central constituencies.
He was a Trafford MBC councillor from 1979-84 and while an MP was chair of the parliamentary Labour party from 2006-12 and a Foreign & Commonwealth Office minister from 1997-99.
Mr Lloyd’s position now as interim mayor is a slightly strange one. The Greater Manchester mayor will be far more ‘first among equals’ than the post’s London counterpart, and he and his successors will have to make sure they keep the 10 leaders on board to avoid seeing their ideas blocked.
This means that whether or not he ultimately seeks the elected role, Mr Lloyd will have less formal power than the public will tend to assume he enjoys, but will seen throughout the country as the person who must make a success of the first and most wide-ranging of all devolution deals.