Manchester Elects: Sean Anstee

With Greater Manchester heading to the polls on Thursday to decide on their first Mayor, I’ve been taking a look at the manifesto of each of the candidates for the election. So far, we’ve gone through Labour’s Andy Burnham, the Liberal Democrats’ Jane Brophy, and the English Democrats’ Stephen Morris, and my personal league table (based on who I’d most likely vote for, based on manifesto alone) looks like this:

1st – Andy Burnham – Labour

2nd – Stephen Morris – English Democrats

3rd – Jane Brophy – Liberal Democrats

This time, the focus goes on the Conservative Party’s Sean Anstee – a man who, for me, it is impossible to pin an age on. He manages to span 18 – 50 years old, effortlessly. But that hardly reflects on his ability to be Greater Manchester’s new Mayor.

Currently, Sean Anstee is the Leader of Trafford Council, and seems, from the scuttlebug on the streets, to be the main challenger for Andy Burnham. Little surprise that Labour’s biggest threat is the Conservatives, in fact it’s all rather boring that it’s the same yet again, but there you go. He has a few bullet points about himself on his first page. So he let’s you know in no uncertain terms that:

  • He grew up in Partington – Local lad (seems to be the most important thing for a candidate in this election)
  • He started an apprenticeship at 16 (not important in the slightest, but perhaps he hints that he’ll be good for apprentices and their schemes)
  • He oversaw the lowest Council Tax in Greater Manchester (that’s great for the people of Trafford, and a kick in the teeth to everybody else, but bound to be a hint that he might lower the council tax in the whole of Greater Manchester if elected)
  • He has a track record of delivery as leader of Trafford Council (that’s great)

Sean Anstee 1The other part of his first page is a rather annoying, holier-than-thou sounding “quotation”, discussing Westminster politicians’ penchant for political game-playing, like that’s a problem only found in Westminster, or indeed a problem that isn’t rife in his own party. He follows in his party leader’s footsteps, valuing buzzwords over anything of value.

Speaking of his party leader, Big T makes an appearance on page 2! Or I should call her Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, as she is known in the manifesto. Just in case you didn’t know how important she was. What a great opportunity to appear friendly and “for the people”, completely spurned in favour of pedantry. Cheeky of May to take the focus off Sean too. “Personal” touch with the signature, mind you. Very “in” right now.

The only other part of the manifesto is “Sean’s Pledge”, uncreatively titled, like a student would do for a high school’s School Council election. If there is one thing this manifesto lacks, it’s a feeling of focus. Here’s his pledge points:

  • Housing our future generations – he wants to reserve a proportion of new homes for the local population (fair enough)
  • Creating more jobs – He’s going to work with May to make Greater Manchester central to any post-Brexit trade deals (1st mention of Brexit, and making it clear that it’ll be at least 2 years until Greater Manchester is important for job creation)
  • Stronger policing – He wants to give communities more control over priorities (seems alright but a bit of a “nothing” pledge – with the “Crush the Saboteurs” rhetoric coming from May, this one’s liable to a bit of misconstruing)
  • Improving transport – He wants to introduce smart ticketing (there’s already smart ticketing on each of the public transport services in Greater Manchester…you’re too late, Sean…or misinformed)
  • Strengthening the health service – He wants parity between physical and mental health (a noble endeavour, but hardly “strengthening”. Seems like he was told to mention health services, and had to pick something)
  • Improving our environment – He wants to protect greenfield sites (a popular choice for this election. Everybody wants to save the greenfield sites, and so they should)

Sean Anstee 2There’s something about Sean’s pledges that sets them apart from the pledges of other candidates. There’s no feel to them. They seem like a standard set of pledges. “Here, talk about policing and the environment and let Theresa do the rest”. No mention of homelessness on the streets of Manchester (a very hot topic!), no mention of curbing the spice epidemic (a particularly vogue topic). The pledges all seem a bit “Yeah, but you could do that anywhere”. There’s no sense that he understands the pressures of Greater Manchester for the people who live there. A theme that rings true throughout the Conservative Party, as it happens. More substance than Jane Brophy, perhaps, within the manifesto, but significantly less believable and trustworthy, from my point of view anyway. It’s with some regret that I send the rather popular candidate to the bottom of my league table.

Running league table:

1st – Andy Burnham – Labour

2nd – Stephen Morris – English Democrats

3rd – Jane Brophy – Liberal Democrats

4th – Sean Anstee – Conservatives

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