“Actually?” she guffaws after I point out this at the moment. “I imply, I don’t take myself too severely however I’m not a comic or something.”
A second’s consideration. “Though everybody in Liverpool thinks they’re humorous, don’t they? I might need a little bit of that in me.”
Anderson – at the moment wearing a leather-based jacket and thin denims – isn’t your common politician. She’s a 6ft tall, working-class black girl for starters. She is each a self-professed Corbynista (“What was flawed with communist broadband?” she asks) and about as straight-talking as you would want for.
After I ask at one level if she agrees along with her pal and fellow metropolis councillor Sarah Morton who brought about a small storm final summer time by calling Keir Starmer a “brylcreemed shitehawk”, she responds by telling me off for such a tabloid query. “I don’t know if he makes use of Brylcreem,” she provides.
We’re speaking over espresso and road meals within the metropolis’s teeming Daring Road. Below regular circumstances, maybe, the Labour candidate to be mayor of Liverpool may not generate an excessive amount of curiosity exterior town itself.
However there are two main variations this time spherical.
The primary is Anderson herself. If the 50-year-old mother-of-one wins Thursday’s election, she is going to change into the primary girl of color to ever lead a significant British metropolis. She would, simply by her very existence, her supporters say, kick open a door that has remained shut for a lot too lengthy. How does that really feel?
“I feel there’s that factor, you can’t be what you can not see,” she says. “So I do assume this may affect on ladies desirous about what they will and can’t obtain… And simply by being within the room, as a black girl, it should make a distinction to the tone and tradition right here.”
An equality and variety marketing consultant by occupation, she has solely been a councillor for a few years and, in her private life, has twice been declared bankrupt. However she had no qualms about operating for what’s one in all England’s greatest political jobs exterior Westminster. “With out me standing,” she says, “it might have simply been extra blokes arguing.”
She shakes her head and shoots a glance: bloody politics, eh?
The second level of be aware is the background context. That’s to say, the truth that Liverpool Metropolis Council is at present mired in a scandal so rotten authorities commissioners have been despatched in to supervise giant chunks of it.
The earlier mayor Joe Anderson (no relation) is at present beneath police investigation on suspicion of bribery (strongly denied), whereas, in March, an eviscerating inspection – the Caller report – detailed an astonishing tradition of dodgy contracts, sketchy scrutiny, dysfunctional administration and institutional intimidation. Some estimates recommend greater than £100m of taxpayers’ cash could have been wasted.
With all that in thoughts, why ought to anybody vote Labour right here ever once more?
“Completely,” nods Anderson, whose father is half Liberian. “What’s occurred right here was disgusting… It disgusts me when so-called socialists act out of greed. However, as a Labour Get together member, I can sit there and moan and bitch, or I can try to do one thing about it.”
Will she apologise? “Yeah, I’ll,” she solutions. “I’ve been a councillor two years so am I personally accountable? No. However I’ll completely apologise on behalf of the get together. I count on that behaviour off Tories. Not off our personal.”
She won’t touch upon Joe Anderson himself however does inform a narrative of being requested to arrange a race taskforce. “It could have been accountable solely to him,” she says. “I’ve executed this work lengthy sufficient to know you don’t change the tradition of an organisation by being accountable to 1 particular person.”
She declined the chance. “And I knew I wouldn’t get something ever once more,” she provides. “You couldn’t say no to Joe.”
Despite the scandal, she is going to nonetheless most likely change into mayor.
Polling has recommended some shift from Labour on the again of the controversy. However the numbers must be monumental for Anderson to lose. It is a metropolis as a one-party state. Some 72 of the 90 councillors right here – and all 5 of the MPs – are Labour.
“It is likely to be a contest quite than the standard coronation,” one skilled, Jon Tonge, professor in politics at Liverpool College, tells me later. “However it should nearly actually be a contest Labour nonetheless wins.”
If (when) she does, Anderson says her rapid goal shall be to create a “world-leading” system of governance to make sure nothing just like the Caller report ever occurs once more. She is promising annual citizen’s audits, boosted scrutiny and an extra of transparency. She is blunt in saying she believes sure senior councillors right here enabled the previous’s poisonous tradition. “They won’t be in my group,” she says decisively. “There shall be a shake-up.”
What else? She needs fewer automobiles on Liverpool’s roads, plans to launch a care constitution and can goal to create an actual residing wage. Each coverage will bear a so-called triple-lock verify: is it good for inclusion, the surroundings and social values?
Oh, and she or he additionally needs to eliminate the place of elected mayor. She believes the system – the brain-child of ex-Tory chancellor George Osborne – is simply too open to abuse. She needs a return to the outdated council-leader format and has promised a referendum on the difficulty by 2023.
“I’m absolutely dedicated to sacking myself,” she says.
Anderson’s personal political id can most likely be traced again to her single mom. A formative childhood expertise was seeing her mum throw herself on the mattress when Margaret Thatcher gained the 1983 election. “She goes: ‘We’re emigrating to Australia’, useless dramatic like – however then we really did, we moved on the market,” she remembers.
They spent simply two months down beneath earlier than coming again. “Australia again then for a white girl with a black little one…” Anderson drifts off, leaves the sentence uncompleted. “We by no means regretted it,” she says after a second.
Rising up in Liverpool’s deprived Netherley space within the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties wasn’t straightforward, both, it’s value saying, however there’s nowhere Anderson would quite be from. “With some girls, class comes first; with some girls, gender; with some girls, race,” she says. “However for me, primary in my id is Scouse. I’m Scouse at first.”
She grew to become an equality and variety marketing consultant in her twenties and has spent nearly 30 years working with everybody from the Crown Prosecution Service to Merseyside Fireplace and Rescue, whereas additionally elevating her son (17 and 6ft 8in tall).
When it emerged final month that she had twice been bankrupt, her opponents – which embrace Lib Dem Richard Kemp and Tory Katie Burgess – recommended it confirmed she couldn’t be trusted with the budgetary tasks of main a metropolis of half one million individuals.
“It’s only a backward accusation to match somebody who turns into bankrupt as a result of they misplaced work to somebody who isn’t [financially responsible],” she says. “Individuals who say which can be fairly judgey as a result of they’ve by no means been in my place, have they? Being a single mum or dad and dealing… you make decisions. Does my child go with out or do I handle with some credit score? That’s utterly totally different to budgeting for a metropolis council.”
She says that she herself doesn’t need to interact in political mud-slinging, though she’s greater than able to deploying a withering put-down. When the dialog turns to Stephen Yip, an unbiased candidate who has promised to take lower than a 3rd of the put up’s £83,500 wage, she rolls her eyes. “We may all do this if we had a million-pound home, couldn’t we?”
Anderson, for what it’s value, lives in social housing within the Princess Park council ward she represents.
“Turning into mayor hasn’t been my burning ambition in life,” she says because the dialog attracts to an in depth. “I used to be actually pleased with my life earlier than. However… I felt I may get up and do one thing for town I like.”