British Elections: Manchester

Manchester, 7th of June 2017

Walk around the center of Manchester, just a few hours before the polling stations open, and you won’t even think there’s a national election happening. No one is delivering leaflets on the streets, and you won’t see any “For the Many” or “Strong and Stable” messaging anywhere. The reason is simple: the city is composed of safe Labour seats and no competition really exists.

This peculiarity (in Europe) of the British electoral system means that the vote of a Mancunian is almost worthless and so the attention that parties give to Manchester during the election is close to zero.

In Manchester city and Greater Manchester, the Green Party has presented several young candidates, trying to seed a future where the party can be more competitive. Brighton Pavilion, the until now only Green seat, was a Labour seat until 2010 as is Bristol West, their main target seat. The strategy seems to be to cement a strong Green presence in safe Labour seats, where tactical voting is not so strong, in order to appear as a challenger without risking giving seats to the Conservatives.

One of those candidates is Robbie McMinn Lee in the Hazel Grove constituency in Stockport, Greater Manchester. He’s an 18 year old candidate in one of the seats the Liberal Democrats lost to the Conservatives in their 2015 debacle. Robbie is a student and at the same time works as a barista, something common among people his age in one of Europe’s states with more expensive education.

The Green campaign in suburbs such as Robbie’s in Stockport is much focused on transportation: a topic the Greens have long focused on and one of the topics Jeremy Corbyn took to the leadership of the Labour Party. The fact that the election was called so suddenly, the leadership of Corbyn having taken some of key Green policies to the Labour manifesto and tactical voting to keep the Tories out of a majority make the Greens expect a smaller share of the votes for the party, even though their policies have mostly became mainstream on the left of the spectrum.

Even though Manchester won’t be big news on election night, it has been the center of one of the main topics of this snap election. When in the end of May a suicide bomber killed 23 in a concert held in the stadium right in the center of Manchester, it brought to the political arena the topic of terrorism and the answer to it, making clear that the austerity led by Theresa May had real life consequences. Manchester has united to claim its diversity as an asset, while the Conservatives went further in their slide to the right by threatening to dismantle human rights laws. It is thus no wonder that Manchester is going to give all its MPs to a party that wants to keep the Tories out of government.


Filipe is a Member of the Ecosprinter Editorial Board and is currently touring the UK to report live on the happenings in Brexit-country around election time.

Stay tuned for more articles in the next couple days.

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