Stephen Yip & the Liverpool Mayoral Election
The 2021 local and mayoral elections marked a definitive shift in the UK political landscape. I, an otherwise-staunch Labour voter, supported an independent mayoral candidate for the first time ever while simultaneously prioritising Green candidates running for council. This was a widespread phenomenon as unheard-of candidates rose from the dust to rival stronghold party vote shares. Following the bribery controversy in Liverpool, placing scrutiny on former Mayor Joe Anderson, Joanne Anderson, the first woman of colour to hold mayoral office in the area (and not to be confused with the former Mayor), took over as the Labour candidate for this city.
Though resolutely left-wing in terms of voting patterns, results nonetheless marked independent Stephen Yip as a close second to Anderson (with nearly 41% of the vote share), an unprecedented result in a county where 93% of MP’s are of Labour, almost all of which with five-figure majorities. For comparison, Yip gained more first-preference votes than the Lib Dems and Tories combined, emphasising the failure of minority parties in the area to capitalise on the Labour council controversy.
Why was this the result in Liverpool?
In early 2021, support for mainstream political parties hit an all-time low. While Starmer, the centrist replacement to Corbyn in leading the Labour party lacks charisma and ability to unite a party devoid of a clear audience, the general public have become disillusioned. As a result, many Labour loyalists lent support to smaller parties, independents or even Boris Johnson (Bojo) in making a political point, while outside the central Labour heartlands, Tory support thrived, expanding majorities and consolidating the blue sea of rural English constituencies.
The picture is mixed elsewhere, however. Continued support for independence referendum-supporting parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland demonstrates understandable contempt for the mainstream political system, no wonder in a time of COVID, Brexit and economic instability where lower classes are exponentially susceptible to its discriminatory arm.
Who is Stephen Yip?
A charity founder, philanthropist and millionaire, Yip campaigned as an independent to reset the Liverpool political system. Directly challenging mainstream parties by pushing for a new voting system, Yip advocates council transparency, whistle-blower protection and further environmental protections among education and city-wide employment initiatives to rebuild and regain trust. This would require an new level of cross-party collaboration that remains unseen in mainstream politics, however, if the opportunity for change is seized, potential exists for the political system in Liverpool to be transformed for the benefit of its members.