As the new Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson has been handed a difficult and rather testing first few months. Inheriting a unruly mess from her predecessor Joe Anderson (no relation), Joanne is going to have to manoeuvre through a political minefield if she is going to be successful in her new role.

However, she has already made ground breaking history by becoming the UK’s first black woman to lead a major city. Joanne hopes to build on this success by re-affirming the Liverpudlian community that she strives to be more ‘engaged with stakeholders’ rather than focusing her attention on a few individuals- already, Joanne is making significant progress that was not seen with Joe Anderson. Joanne’s track-record and experience point towards her being a fantastic leader of a community that she will always puts first.


The Difficulties she has Faced

Joanne grew up in a rather crampled flat in the Netherly area of Liverpool during the seventies and eighties which as she says was ‘full of asbestos’, an uncaring place for anyone to live. Her mother campaigned to get the very flats they were living in demolished due to their conditions.

She also recalls Thatcher’s victory in 1983 and how in response she moved with her mother to Australia for two months. Without delving too deeply into her saddening experience abroad, Joanne simply said ‘Australia back then for a white woman with a black child’ pointing to the difficulties the two would faced while in Australia.

Even now she points to the way that men approach her differently to women. After her successful campaign ‘men have offered advice, women have offered support’. This seemingly inconsequential  difference showcases the difficulties that women face when they reach higher positions in government, as much as we may not like to admit it- misogyny is still prevalent in our societies, Joanne’s experiences are proof of that.

Anderson has also been bankrupt twice in her life, a point that her Lib Dem and Conservative opponents use to attempt to undermine her fiscal abilities. Unsurprisingly, Joanne finds these accusations ‘backward’ and rather cruel- she asks if someone going bankrupt ‘because they lost work’ is the same as someone who is not financially responsible.

This casual mudslinging is all too popular in mayoral races, people in power will do anything to secure their positions even if it means tearing somebody down about their past. Joanne argues that such positions encourage ‘Ronald Reagan politics’, a slant towards sensationalism and empty platitudes rather than meaningful reform and change.

Representation and racial equality are aspects of life that Joanne has been fighting for the entirety of her life, and believes that her victory will help inspire girls and women all over the UK. Anderson also spoke about Black Lives Matter and the response that the UK had to the murder of George Floyd.

Joanne also acknowledges that the pandemic has contributed to ‘the many inequalities faced by black people’. Seeing thousands of people taking to the streets to denounce our flawed system was ‘heart-warming’ for the fifty-year-old racial activist , especially after all the struggles and adversity she has faced- Joanne now reflects and ‘Hope(s) that things are different and that I can make a difference’.


Starting as She Means to go on

Joanne has described her initial weeks as ‘heavy’ and has confidently spoken out on the many tough decisions she had to make right off the bat. Immediately, in her first week Joanne dismissed the previous cabinet and appointed a brand new team that she believed better reflected the direction Liverpool should be heading in- a nee and positively driven Liverpool.

This new team included twenty-five year old Harry Doyle and twenty-six year olds Frazer Lake and Sarah Dyle. Joanne said she implemented this team due to their ‘passion, energy, dedication and commitment.’ Turning to younger members of the Labour party should help to reflect Labour’s voting base which largely skews to the younger end of the spectrum. She believes that by incorporating the younger generation into her leadership, she can reach all age groups instead of just focusing on the older generations.

Tackling the results of Max Caller’s report is right on top of Joanne’s to do list. The report points to an underlining toxic environment that was present during Joe Anderson’s term as Mayor. Pointing to ‘dodgy contracts, sketchy scrutiny, dysfunctional management and institutional intimidation’ it is clear that Joe had left Labour’s position in Liverpool in disrepute.

In response Joanne has not only called for annual citizen’s audits and a focus on transparency, but she supports a 2023 referendum to remove Liverpool’s mayoral position. Even then she would be far more interested in tending to Liverpool’s needs than a move to Westminster. Joanne’s selflessness and her dedication to improving Liverpool are obvious with stances such as these which do little for her own career, but will do so much for the citizens around her.


Humour in All Things

Just days before the election took place, Joanne sat down with Colin Drury of the Independent and showcased why she is such a popular figure amongst her new city. When asked about her identity Joanne quipped ‘I’m Scouse first and foremost’, she also remarked that ‘everyone in Liverpool thinks they’re funny’ when replying to being called good company.

A self-proclaimed Corbynista Joanne responded to claims of Keir Starmer being a ‘brylcreemed sh***hawk’ by jokingly saying that she was not sure if he used Brylcreem. This relaxed and personable approach to interviews is part of Joanne’s public appeal, she does not take herself too seriously and does not separate herself from her constituents by acting morally superior. The people can relate to her, which is one of the reasons she is so popular.

Even becoming mayor was just the result of a string of chaotic events, not a political master plan. While Joanne often sees the funny side of her own position, she also ensures that she does not become flippant about the hardships that many in Liverpool face. Universal Credit and the five week delay that exists in the system is one of Joanne’s main concerns. Leaving those who have suffered a loss of income without support for so long can lead to a massive increase in debt and mental health issues.

Joanne sees issues such as these first hand as she still lives in social housing in the Princess Park council ward. Building back the support that once existed in Liverpool will be difficult with the actions of her predecessor looming but as Joanne has put it ‘You don’t build up trust by words but by actions.’ Which is a point many agree with.


Moving Forward

Only time will tell if Joanne has a successful term as Mayor of Liverpool, however she has already showcased how powerful representation can be. Her story has become one of the few Labour success stories in the recent local election results, and she is poised to become a pivotal member of the Party moving forward. Anderson now has the chance to showcase how socialist figures and cooperation can lead to regeneration in our struggling communities. Ensuring that she has the best interests of the working-class stakeholders close to heart will do wonders to further her position as a representational hero.

This article is the first in a series of pieces spotlighting the best and brightest minority ethnic politicians in Britain. Join our mailing service to know when the next article in the series is out.