Tracy Brabin has urged her colleagues in the shadow cabinet to visit West Yorkshire and other Labour-run mayoral regions to learn from the devolved governments and see first-hand what their administrations have to offer.
Taking part in an online Q&A session this afternoon, hosted by Labour in Communications, the Labour mayor told those watching that “it would be great if our colleagues in Westminster knew a bit more about what we are achieving”.
Asked how Labour could elevate the role of elected metro-mayors on the national executive committee, Brabin said that she hoped the constitutional commission launched by the party and advised by Gordon Brown would address the question.
“Where is the mayor’s voice in shadow cabinet? Where is the mayor’s voice in the NEC [national executive committee]? Where are the visits from colleagues to the region to see on the ground what we’re delivering?
“Where are our shadow cabinet away days coming to our regions? There’s loads we can offer. There’s loads of information we can share,” she said.
“We know our electorate. We know why they’re excited about mayors. This was the first mayor – as you said, the first West Yorkshire mayor, and while the turnout is always low for local elections the mayoral turnout was higher than for local elections.
“I was the first ever mayor and got 60% of the vote for Labour. So, we have a really positive argument and story to tell and it would be great if our colleagues in Westminster knew a bit more about what we’re achieving.”
Brabin also told the meeting she is supporting of Lisa Nandy’s position on levelling up, saying she is “behind it all the way”. Nandy criticised the recently published white paper on levelling up as only offering “more of the same”.
The metro mayor for West Yorkshire also said, however, that she feels the frontbench could “go further and have potentially bolder ambitions”.
“But it’s a process, isn’t it, of making sure that the policies you’re implementing make an impact. So, for example, the windfall tax on the oil and gas companies makes so much sense. That’s levelling up,” she added.
“We’re not in government, so that is really challenging. But I can level up here by having a programme of retrofitting homes… That levelling up is happening on a daily basis in areas where they have metro mayors and the Labour Party gathering together their policies in readiness.”
Her comments came as Keir Starmer takes part in the final day of a three-day tour this week, in which the Labour leader has visited Sunderland, Burnley and Erdington, taking his ‘contract with the British people’ to voters directly.
Starmer criticised the Tories of failing to tackle violent crime and to provide “ambition and opportunities” for young people while visiting Sunderland and in Burnley pledged to reverse the “shocking” decline in manufacturing job.
The event this afternoon formed part of a series of events Labour in Communications is holding with figures from across the party. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves discussed Labour’s stance on nationalisation in a session last month.
Labour in Communications, founded last year, is a network of around 1,200 Labour Party supporters working in corporate communications, public relations, public affairs and government relations sectors.