Labor wins York and North Yorkshire mayoral election

Image source, BBC/Hannah Sackville-Bryant

Screenshot, David Skaith won the first York and North Yorkshire mayoral election

Labor won the first York and North Yorkshire mayoral election by almost 15,000 votes.

New York businessman David Skaith won with 66,761 votes.

In total, just under 30% of the total electorate voted for the region’s first mayor.

Conservative candidate Keane Duncan came second with 51,967 votes and Liberal Democrat candidate Felicity Cunliffe-Lister third with 30,867.

video subtitles, The victorious David Skaith becoming the first mayor of North Yorkshire

Taking to the stage at Harrogate Convention Center after his victory was announced, Mr Skaith thanked his wife Alice, their two children, staff and fans.

“We have a great opportunity to bring York and North Yorkshire together and really grow as one.

“The message from York and North Yorkshire is clear: we want change.”

Responding to his defeat, Mr Duncan said: “Inevitably I am very disappointed, as you can imagine, but we ran a fantastic campaign and reached corners of the county I never knew existed.”

Analysis: Richard Edwards, BBC North Yorkshire political reporter

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The result of this election is enormous and cannot be overstated.

Conservative First Minister and North Yorkshire MP Rishi Sunak is now represented by a Labor mayor.

And to get there, Labor’s David Skaith and his team had to undermine a Conservative majority in North Yorkshire that has long been embedded in local and national election results.

Signs of this outcome were first seen in the elections to the new North Yorkshire Council, when the Conservatives almost lost the majority they had held for a generation.

Then in July 2023, Labor’s Keir Mather toppled a huge Conservative majority in the Selby and Ainsty by-election.

Despite those hints, this is still a huge achievement for the Labor Party.

They achieved this with a traditional, door-to-door campaign, and being careful not to make large spending commitments.

Contrast this with Conservative Keane Duncan’s high-profile push, which came with several big-ticket items, including the purchase and restoration of Scarborough’s Grand Hotel.

Some traditional conservatives saw that and just didn’t believe it.

With national political headwinds, Duncan faced an arduous task.

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Skaith, 35, was born and raised in Harrogate and studied sport at York St John University.

After a spell living in Brighton while his then-girlfriend, now wife, trained to be a teacher, Skaith returned to Yorkshire and opened menswear store Winstons of York in 2015.

He became involved in politics after his father died during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a tweet, Rachael Maskell, Labor MP for York Central, said: “He is the person who will lead us across North Yorkshire to deliver economy, services and future for our communities.

“I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves described Labour’s victory as a “fantastic result”.

North Yorkshire was considered by many to be a Conservative stronghold and the county contained Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

A Labor Party spokesman said the result was “truly historic”, adding: “Keir Starmer’s Labor Party is now winning in Rishi Sunak’s backyard.

“The Prime Minister’s own voters have taken a look at both parties and have chosen Labour.”

Duncan, 29, led a social media campaign in which he drove a van to different corners of the county, promising to buy the Grand Hotel in Scarborough and pay for free parking in towns in the region.

Duncan said the Grand had gone from being one of the “largest and most luxurious hotels in Europe” to the “embarrassment of Scarborough”.

He also said he would consider becoming the first Conservative mayor to franchise bus services if elected.

Duncan, a former Daily Star journalist, led Ryedale District Council between 2019 and 2021 before becoming North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for transport in 2022.