Labour urged to extend deadline in vote for mayoral candidates

Andy Burnham MP

The votes to decide Labour’s nominees for mayoral elections in Liverpool and Manchester should be delayed because of problems sending out ballot papers, two of the candidates have said.

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Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram both called for the deadline to be pushed back and for electronic ballots to be reissued to everyone who has not yet voted.

“We are genuinely concerned that many Labour members will be disenfranchised from participating in these important decisions,” they said in a letter to Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, and Paddy Lillis, the chair of its National Executive Committee.

The two MPs said that the party has missed two deadlines to deliver postal ballots and now have only two weeks left of the four-week campaign period, during which many families will be away on summer holidays. “Even if the ballots arrive tomorrow [Monday 25 July], many people will have already left for their holiday and will not return in time to vote by 5 August,” they wrote.

“We call upon the National Executive Committee to ensure that these contests are open and fair to all eligible members.”

They said that they should be extended by a week, to 12 August, that the electronic ballots should be reissued to those who have not voted, and that the party should email all members to let them know.

“The last couple of months has been a turbulent time for the country, in the wake of the Brexit vote and instability that has followed in our political leadership. It is a crucial time for Labour to move forwards united and our party democracy is a cornerstone to achieve that.”

Burnham, the former health secretary, is fighting to be Labour’s candidate for the Great Manchester position and is up against the former shadow minister Ivan Lewis and Tony Lloyd, the interim mayor and current police and crime commissioner in the city.

Rotheram, a parliamentary aide to Jeremy Corbyn, wants to stand for the party in the Liverpool city region election and faces opposition from Luciana Berger, shadow minister for mental health, and Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson.

The new metro-mayor positions in some of England’s biggest cities were created by the former chancellor, George Osborne, who sought to devolve some power to authorities, whose influence will transcend local council boundaries.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Kevin Rawlinson, for theguardian.com on Sunday 24th July 2016 19.41 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010