Kim McGuinness elected first North East Mayor

Kim McGuinness at the count in Sunderland
Kim McGuinness is the first North East Mayor [North News and Pictures]

Labour's Kim McGuinness has become the first North East Mayor after winning Thursday's election.

The Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner ran against five other candidates for the role.

Current North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll and Conservative Guy Renner-Thompson were among her opponents.

Ms McGuinness will represent two million people living in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.

She won 41.3% of the vote, with Mr Driscoll coming in second with 28.2% and Mr Renner-Thompson finishing third with 11.7%.

The turnout was 31%.

Ms McGuinness, a former councillor in Newcastle, said the election marked a “really big moment for the North East" as it took the "first step to taking control" of its own future.

She pledged to turn the region into the “real home of opportunity”, with new jobs, green industries and a major transport overhaul, including bringing privatised bus services back under public control.

Jamie Driscoll
Jamie Driscoll was previously elected North of Tyne Mayor when he stood for Labour [BBC]

Ms McGuinness' primary rival for the new mayoral position was Mr Driscoll - the incumbant North of Tyne Mayor.

He was elected to the role as a Labour candidate but resigned last year after a spat with the party. He served the rest of his term as an independent.

He was reportedly barred from Labour's shortlist of candidates for the North East Mayor over an appearance with film director Ken Loach.

Mr Loach was expelled from Labour in 2021 during what he called a "purge" of Jeremy Corbyn allies. The party never confirmed why he was kicked out.

After he resigned, Mr Driscoll said: "I think there is a bit of a culture in the Labour Party now that is all about coalescing around a certain small clique.

"It's not serving people well. It's not serving politics well."

Analysis from Luke Walton, Political Correspondent, BBC North East & Cumbria

It was a red-on-red contest that at one stage looked like it might embarrass Labour.

But speculation that independent contender Jamie Driscoll might beat his former party’s candidate in the North East mayoral election proved wide of the mark.

Instead Kim McGuinness, until now Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, won by a good margin.

When Mr Driscoll, a former Labour North of Tyne mayor, was excluded from the party’s shortlist for the North East role, it sparked widespread sympathy and disquiet. Many believed he was punished for being on the left of the party.

A crowdfunding campaign to support his mayoral bid followed, and out on the doorstep his claim that, as an independent, he wasn’t beholden to party bosses in London struck a chord with some voters.

But on Friday it was Labour supporters cheering while Mr Driscoll appeared deflated.

He did, however, point out that attracting more than 120,000 votes without a party machine was an achievement, and signalled he may launch another mayoral bid in four years.

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