BLOG: Why stand in an election you're likely to lose?

Cllr Sean Anstee Credit: Press Association

It's a question I imagine Sean Anstee will be asked a lot in the coming months, after he announced last night he wants to be the Conservatives' candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Whoever Labour chose would surely have been the favourite, and in Andy Burnham the party has picked a likeable candidate with a UK-wide profile and experience at the highest level of government.In contrast, 29-year-old Mr Anstee has been Leader of Trafford Council since 2014.

And there is little evidence of large Conservative support in Greater Manchester. So why run?

  • 1) Expectations: Sean Anstee has very little to lose. Expectations are low he is unlikely he'll be criticised by Conservative supporters if he is defeated.

  • 2) Self-promotion: The race for Mayor will garner national media attention, allowing Mr Anstee to raise his profile across the UK.

  • 3) Marking Territory: The leaders of the various Greater Manchester councils will be given key roles in the new Mayor's cabinet. By running a solid campaign, even if he loses Mr Anstee is sure to secure one of the top jobs.

  • 4) Experience: Sean Anstee became the country's youngest council leader in 2014 at the age of 26. But he needs to build his experience of politics at a higher level.

  • 5) He could win: In other mayoral contests - think 2008 and Boris Johnson in London - the outsider can win. Andy Burnham has also been the favourite before and lost. Last year, Jeremy Corbyn beat him to the Labour leadership.

  • 6) Tory Hero: Everyone loves a trier, especially in the Conservatives, and Mr Anstee is sure to gain the respect of party members across the North West. The same members who select potential MPs.

It all comes down to the fact that Sean Anstee is ambitious. He is a rising star and many in his party tout him as a future cabinet minister. By putting himself forward, he will succeed in manoeuvring himself into a prime position for when a safe Conservative seat needs a talented new MP.

  • Leigh MP Andy Burnham is standing as Labour candidate, the Lib Dems have chosen Trafford Councillor Jane Brophy, and The Manchester Greens' candidate is Deyika Nzeribe.