Richard Parker selected as Labour candidate for West Midlands mayor

Katie Neame

Richard Parker has been selected as Labour’s candidate for next year’s West Midlands mayoral election, to take on incumbent Conservative mayor Andy Street.

Parker was confirmed as the candidate on Friday following a ballot of Labour members in the region. In a tweet following the result, Parker said he was “humbled” to have been selected as the candidate “to take on and defeat” Street.

Street has been West Midlands metro mayor since the position’s creation in 2017, having previously served as managing director of John Lewis. He was reelected as mayor in 2021, defeating Labour candidate and MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill Liam Byrne, in what Byrne described as a “bitter blow” for the party.

Following his selection, Parker said: “The West Midlands is being held back by a failing Tory mayor and a Tory government who have let our region down. Over the next year, I will campaign relentlessly in all of our communities, getting out a vision for a brighter future that brings better paid jobs and opportunity for all.

“I will lead an all-out assault on low pay, rogue landlords and crime on our streets. I won’t rest until we have an integrated, affordable, publicly-controlled transport system in the West Midlands.

“We will get our fair share of funding to lift people out of poverty and regenerate our high streets. And we will go green quicker to save our planet and create more high-quality jobs in the region.

“As your mayoral candidate, I will continue to lead a united Labour Party campaign that will bring the West Midlands together to beat Tory mayor Andy Street and unleash our full potential.”

Parker joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 1989, working his way up to be a partner and the company’s lead on housing and communities. He has been a Labour Party member for 35 years and managed PwC’s relationship with the party’s frontbench between 2010 and 2015.

His projects during his time with PwC included working with local council leaders to set up the West Midlands Combined Authority that he is now seeking to lead and taking part in negotiations to secure the region’s first devolution deal.

He left PwC in 2016 to establish his own business working with SMEs and social enterprises on green investment, housing initiatives and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. He has lived in the West Midlands since 1985.

Parker set out nine priorities during his campaign including launching an “all-out assault on low pay” by ensuring the Combined Authority only does business with firms that pay the real living wage, taking the local bus network into public control and bringing forward the region’s net zero pledge from 2041 to 2035.

He won selection over Birmingham City councillor and regional victims’ commissioner Nicky Brennan. Tweeting following the result, Brennan said: “Congratulations to my friend [Richard Parker] on his selection.

“Although opponents in this race, he was nothing but supportive and kind to me. Looking forward to working hard to kick Street out with him.”

Parker’s campaign backers included former mayoral candidate Byrne, shadow minister and Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, Birmingham Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton and Birmingham Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe.

He was also nominated by 17 out of 20 local Constituency Labour Parties and received support from Community union, the Musicians’ Union, the Co-operative Party, SME4Labour and the Socialist Health Association.

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