Herbert quits mayor bid in ‘skeletons’ row

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Herbert Howe © Trinity Mirror

Herbert Howe © Trinity Mirror

Two independent candidates have ended their campaigns for the Liverpool mayoral elections, with celebrity hairdresser Herbert Howe blaming dirty politics, and student Jonathan Maher making a more low-key exit from the race.

The election has been under scrutiny since February when Liverpool City Council voted by an overwhelming majority to have a directly-elected mayor, without a referendum. Voters will go to the polls on May 3rd.

Howe and Maher withdrew at the weekend as Herbert, a famously flamboyant hairstylist by trade, was quoted in the the Liverpool Daily Post as saying that the arena of Liverpool politics was “viperous”. He claimed to have received threats, including: “We are going to find skeletons in your cupboard.”

He has denied having “skeletons”, insisting: “I don’t have a cupboard, I am an open book.”

Howe’s withdrawal from the race was a shock, as it came just two days after a glitzy champagne reception in the Liverpool ONE Hilton Hotel, where he had set out his campaign aims.

Maher announced he was pulling out in a posting on the Daily Post’s ‘Dale Street Associates’ blog, only later explaining his reasons more fully.

The 28-year-old student said of the mainstream candidates: “Why are they so lacking in ideas for all the money and members these parties have?”

A website Maher initially used to announce his bid is no longer working, but a Facebook posting states: “My principal aim in this process was to get my ideas out there and to get public engagement with them rather than to actually become city mayor.”

The race is set to be hotly contested, with politicians from all parties currently represented within the city council in the running.

Names such as Council Leader Joe Anderson (Labour), Richard Kemp (Lib Dem) and Steve Radford (Liberal), who all currently have a seat on the council, have been joined by the Conservative-backed businessman Tony Caldeira, and Liam Fogarty, an ex-BBC journalist standing as an independent.

Others running include Jeff Berman (Liverpool Independent Party); John Coyne (Green); Jonathan Maher (Independent); Tony Mulhearn (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition); and Paul Rimmer (English Democrats). The full list of confirmed candidates will be announced on Wednesday April 4th.

Manifestos released so far place an emphasis on education and youth services, with current favourite to win Joe Anderson pledging an EMA-style £20-a-week scheme for Liverpool students.

The winner of the mayoral election stands to inherit a substantial amount of power, and additional funding of £130 million from central government to spend.

Liverpool will have the only directly-elected mayor outside of London, where the scheme was implemented 12 years ago, and has seen former Labour man Ken Livingstone, and currently Conservative Boris Johnson in office.

A mayoral debate has been scheduled for Thursday April 19th and is to be held at the University of Liverpool’s Mountford Hall at the Liverpool Guild of Students in Mount Pleasant, where it is likely that candidates will be questioned about the claims made by Howe and Maher.

About Patrick Arnold, JMU Journalism