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May 4·edited May 4Liked by Joshi Herrmann, Mollie Simpson

These kind of local democracy stories are where the Mill really shines - tracking down the stories unfolding in individual wards that get missed when control doesn’t change at overall council level, being able to trace the drama in Oldham back further than October last year, etc. A lot of these stories are honestly just much more interesting to read about, even if less impactful at the national level, than a very low turnout by-election, and there’s really nowhere else you can get the same thing (except the Mill’s sister papers).

I think local politics gets very low engagement because of a sense that none of it really matters; highlighting how volatile and colourful local contests can get is a good way to challenge that.

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Glad you said this. We had a long discussion about how to cover these elections and how to balance the personal with the main results. I agree that introducing readers to the people behind local politics feels like it should increase civic engagement.

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May 4Liked by Joshi Herrmann, Mollie Simpson

Terrific reporting, no one else is giving this rich colour and texture that also shines a light on nationally important stories like Gaza’s impact on Labour, and the political dysfunction you see in places like Oldham. For me, GM is treading a narrow corridor right now, it’s ignited growth in certain places and for certain people, but if it doesn’t find a way to transmit that into North GM you sense things will get more unstable. Burnham has a lot to do.

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May 4Liked by Joshi Herrmann

Bury North has a reputation as a marginal bell-weather seat and in 2019 James Daly MP squeezed in with a minute majority. At the locals Labour saw off the first outing from a new micro-local Bury Independent party and the WPB, Reform and English Democrats in a number of Wards. They also had a first ever win in North Manor, Bury’s very own Blue Wall, and ‘home’ ward of James Daly when he was a Councillor. If the Tories can’t win that ward James Frith, Labour candidate after a previous spell as MP, must be the favourite when the General Election comes.

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Good point, thanks Jim. I'll divvy up the marginals among the team soon so they can all get embedded before the GE.

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I appreciate the human GM election stories you're covering, but wonder if you are reading to much into them. Labour either dominate or are the largest party in 9/10 districts, and have a substantial presence on Stockport. The comments of Stockport Lib leader Mark Hunter (we've done more in 2 years than Labour in 6) just strike me as absurd. All LAs are desperately short of cash and constrained in what they do. Lab did set up the mayoral development corporation which is transforming Central Stockport.

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I sort of see what you mean Peter, but elections coverage always focuses on change and the direction of travel, and so it's notable and interesting that on a night of huge progress for Labour, it went backwards in GM. (Agree that on Stockport the Lib Dems are premature in claiming such credit).

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Where parties have won or lost a seat or two in relatively stable Councils we shouldn't get too excited. For instance in Stockport, the Libs won a seat by 25 votes that Lab had taken off them by 10 votes last year. Is there really a direction of travel in Stockport?

The really interesting stuff is in Oldham and Rochdale where you have done some great reporting. Keep it up!

BTW, I was forced to use Stockport Interchange today due to train disruption. I was pleasantly surprised - I think they've done a great job with the bus station, the garden and the upgraded link to the rail station. Much better than I expected.

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Good point about tight margins, and thanks. I haven't checked out the interchange yet, sounds promising.

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Hunter is a ghoul, yesterdays man. Lib Dems are using Stockport Council for their sole goal of getting their two parliamentary seats back. They'll say anything they like that gets them there. It's mission accomplished then.

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The Daniel Timms graph (that should here after be titled ‘Minus Salford’) is a thing of beauty in an ugly world. I’ve learned things from The Mill’s well judged reporting of local elections, as I’ve learned from hours spent on Longsight Market and in Longsight Library over the last few weeks. One thing is that the political debate amongst Muslim voters is a man-thing, and that hyper-localism is more to do with potholes on the school run than bomb craters in Gaza. As Hanif Alli, the victorious Green candidate in Halliwell has it: “It would be nice if the communities who live [in Halliwell] decide what potholes should be filled first, it’s giving power to the people and I’m all about that.” Power to the Bolton pothole-graders then. Good luck with that.

The Barratts of Bredbury are more of a power in Stockport than Karl Marx (he of the Dialectical Materialism, not the member for Brinnington & Stockport Central) will ever be. Rosemary & Joe Barratt demonstrate tenacity & singularity of purpose, any council administration would be unwise (& exhausted) to discount.

Conflict in the Middle East, what Robert Fisk termed “The Great War for Civilisation” cruelly rages on. It might be facile to say the Labour Party is collateral damage, but it certainly saw off Jeremy Corbyn, as it has just defenestrated Luther Rahman.

As long as Gaza totters and India’s prime minister Modi strengthens his brand of Hindu nationalism, George Galloway and Generals in Pakistan will toy with Longsight like hyaenas with a rat.

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Point pris, mon copain .

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Great political reporting and editing by the Mill , catching the drama and colours of grass roots politics while recognising that in our day the horrors of Gaza are as important to us as slavery and the corn laws were to our forefathers. The report from Bolton was sound and illuminating despite Molly Wilkinson breaking a tried and trusted reporters’ rule by starting her story with a quote. Getting the quote might have been the hardest job of a long night but a better intro would have been:

Tracey Connor-Bennett, standing for the hyper-local Farnworth and Kearsley First party unseated Labour councillor Champak Mistry in Farnworth South.

“People are getting fed up with the mainstream parties,” she said after her dramatic win early on Friday morning.

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Don't blame Molly - that was me doing the rule-breaking Andrew... Which as you know I do quite a lot.

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