AT a time when his leadership is mired in scandal over anti-semitism, Jeremy Corbyn – and Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee – will be picking an unnecessary fight if they try to stop Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis’s candidacy in the Sheffield City Region mayoral election.
The reason is this. Mr Jarvis made it plain at the outset of his campaign that it was his intention to combine the two roles and that he would, if elected, forfeit his mayoral salary. Labour activists were acutely aware of this pledge when they selected the former soldier last week.
And, while it should be ultimately up to the voters of South Yorkshire to determine the viability of the leadership approach set out by Mr Jarvis who, significantly, has the backing of this region’s 36 Labour MPs, Mr Corbyn and his acolytes need to understand the background to the May 3 poll.
Unlike other city-regions, the devolved powers being afforded to Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster are minimal, not least because it has proved so difficult to reach any kind of consensus. The mayor will not have the level of responsibility and autonomy enjoyed, for example, by Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester.
Furthermore, Mr Jarvis has stressed that he intends, if endorsed by the public, to use his status as mayor, and Parliamentarian, to press for a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal that, if agreed, will render the post redundant by 2020. As such, it would be unfair, undemocratic and an insult to party members if Mr Corbyn and his NEC rewrite the rules at this late date to preclude MPs from also being mayors. Such heavy-handedness might prompt many to conclude that they’re fearful of Mr Jarvis and jealous of the esteem in which he is held by all parties.