Manchester after Leese

Ekua Bayunu and Isaac Rose give a brief insight into the rationale behind tomorrow’s event ‘Manchester After Leese.’

The retirement of Richard Leese as leader of Manchester City Council marks a historic turning point for our city – and an opportunity that the left should seize to influence the future trajectory of Manchester.


 In early September, in amongst the madness of Conference 2021, I was also preparing a left manifesto alongside a small group of other socialist councillors in Manchester. The manifesto gave a brief oversight of a future for the city under socialist leadership. Having been the only Labour councillor to challenge Richard Leese in 25 years at the Labour Group AGM, in May, it made sense that I throw my hat in the ring once again.

Candidates were gagged and were not allowed to use social media or be interviewed in the press. My councillor colleagues had to ask me for a copy of the manifesto or I had to offer it in one-to-one contact only.

Once my candidacy became public knowledge through the heavily controlled media voice of the council, Isaac reached out to me to invite me to the event.


As an active member of Momentum in the city, I supported our ambition to have a fuller and more informed debate about how we should organise amongst the wider socialist movement and invited two of Manchester’s socialist councillors – Jade Doswell, Chair of the backbench Women’s Committee, and Ekua Bayunu – to join us in discussing the political opportunities of the present moment. To help us frame this conversation more fully in the context of the legacy of Leese’s leadership, we also invited Owen Hatherley to join our discussion.

Owen Hatherley is a writer, architecture critic, and Culture Editor of Tribune. In his 2010 book, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, he studied Manchester’s mid-00s development regime, a ‘flagship of urban regeneration’, the Leese era in the heyday of Blairism. More recently he has turned his attention to the histories of municipal socialism in Britain, in particular the years of the Greater London Council, in his work Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London. He is well placed to provide unique insight into our discussions on how we move forward.

Jade is a co-author of the manifesto and is in her third year as a councillor in Fallowfield, Manchester.

The manifesto was ‘leaked’ to a local press outlet, the Meteor. and an interrogation of its content will feature in tomorrow’s event.

Details: Manchester After Leese, Wednesday October 20th,7pm, Manchester Central Methodist Hall. Register here

Ekua Bayunu is a Labour Councillor for Hulme. Isaac Rose is a Momentum organiser in Manchester.

Image: Manchester Skyline. Author: ChrisClarke88, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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