According to Westminster groupthink, Andy Burnham is favourite for leader. Yet again, it’s wrong

by Atul Hatwal

The Westminster groupthink, which recently had Ed Miliband walking into Downing street, has a new favourite: Andy Burnham.

Labour MPs talking among themselves and to journalists, journalists talking to each other in Westminster bars and on the conveyor belt of rolling news comment slots, then bouncing off MPs and vocal activists on Twitter – this is the echo chamber that got the result of the general election so badly wrong and has now reconvened to similar effect for the Labour leadership race.

Andy Burnham certainly has support in the PLP, almost half by some accounts, and an active briefing operation shaping journalists’ perceptions. If the leadership election was to be decided among MPs, journalists and Twittervists, he justifiably would be a runaway favourite.

But party members are also involved. Over 220,000 of them. And they do not even vaguely resemble any of the participants in the Westminster groupthink bubble.

Instead, Labour’s members are like the general public.

According to internal party estimates, over 95% do not attend a single party meeting in a year, deliver a leaflet or knock a door. They are not consumed with the minutiae of politics or deeply tribal.

They’ve just made a choice to join Labour, as many people join clubs and societies without any sense that this membership defines their life.

Under Labour’s new leadership election rules, it’s one member one vote. With a membership that reflects the public, the same priorities which so recently decided the general election will similarly shape this race.

Economic competence and the preference for prime minister will be the key criteria against which contenders are to be judged and on both counts Andy Burnham’s candidature is critically flawed.

Over the weekend, Burnham made some tentative moves in the right direction on the economy. He conceded that the deficit should not have risen faster than growth in the late 2000s, under the last Labour government.

But after two shattering election defeats, a few circumspect words are not enough, particularly given the chief secretary to the Treasury in 2007 and 2008 – the cabinet minister responsible for public spending – was one Andy Burnham.

What might just have worked in 2010, will not in 2015. To tackle the deeply entrenched public perception of Labour’s proclivity to over-spend and his personal credibility problem, Andy Burnham needed to go much, much further.

Over the course of a relatively long leadership race, his inadequate efforts on the economy will be mercilessly picked apart in media interviews. It’s what Andrew Neil lives for. Kirsty Wark must be praying for another chance to monster him.

The other candidates’ campaigns will brief about Burnham’s weaknesses on the economy and zero in on his vulnerability to Tory attack as the man who spent all of the money, in Liam Byrne’s infamous note.

The impact on Andy Burnham’s support among party members will be comparable to that of the Tartan scare on Ed Miliband’s support among the public.

On leadership, the critical measure for Labour’s contenders will be who is most competitive with David Cameron on preference for prime minister.

Ed Miliband trailed Cameron by double digits and it proved an insurmountable barrier at the election. Labour cannot repeat the same mistake.

Polling is yet to be conducted on this question (the few polls so far have just been on the choice between candidates with the overwhelming majority of people too unfamiliar with the contenders to express a preference) but Andy Burnham has already been defined with the public.

He, and Yvette Cooper, have been in the public eye for over a decade, as cabinet ministers in the last Labour government and then shadow cabinet members under Ed Miliband.

When voters see both Burnham and Cooper, they see faces associated with Labour’s defeats at the hands of David Cameron in 2010 and 2015.

Burnham in particular was the health secretary when the travesty of Mid Staffs occurred. Once again, other candidates’ teams will ensure his vulnerability to Tory attack as the man on whose watch Mid Staffs happened, will be front and centre, in media coverage of the campaign.

When the polls are conducted, if Andy ‘Mid Staffs’ Burnham, doesn’t trail David Cameron (or Boris Johnson or George Osborne) on preference for prime minister, by double digits, it will be a miracle.

Andy Burnham is currently setting the pace for the the campaign. His team are briefing out a succession of prominent supporters from the PLP each week and will continue to generate momentum and decent media coverage.

But over summer, the campaign will move on from being a PLP popularity contest to focus on the substantive differences between the candidates. At this point, the decision on his candidacy will crystallise into two simple questions.

Do party members think that Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury in the Labour government on the eve of the crash, is best placed to overcome the Conservative onslaught and convince voters that Labour can now be trusted on the economy?

And do party members believe that Andy Burnham, secretary of state for health at the time of Mid Staffs, is the candidate most able to cut through Tory attacks and persuade voters that he, rather than David Cameron, or whoever replaces him, should be prime minister of Britain?

The answers are painfully obvious, perhaps more so to party members than the Westminster village.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut


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42 Responses to “According to Westminster groupthink, Andy Burnham is favourite for leader. Yet again, it’s wrong”

  1. Daniel Garrigan says:

    He was not health secretary at time of mid staffs. That happened before his tenure. He commissioned the independent Francis inquiry into it.

  2. swatantra says:

    Marvellous, isn’t it. Atul has just done a character assassination of Burnham, and Cooper, and not even mentioned who he thinks should get it.
    Could he be going for Liz Kendall or Mary Craig or the other one? who I’ve forgotten the name of. In fact all 3 are forgettable.
    Andy he is photogenic, and comes from up North, and speaks Liverpuddlian, and is a known quantity. He may well have made a few mistakes in the past but he was only a minor Cabinet Minister in those days anyway.

  3. Gareth Young says:

    Andy Burnham doesn’t look like the candidate to win England back. Not only does he object to an English parliament (on the grounds that he’s British) but he also wants a British national football team.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTjgz6Dr8Ns

  4. Graham Harries says:

    The problem in the last Parliament was Labour’s failure to nail the Tory lie re-spending. Rather than taking on the Tory attacks – aided by the LibDems- Labour just hoped that the issue would go away something which was never likely given Liam Byrne’s stupid note. Most economists accept that the high borrowing was caused by the banking crisis and the resultant collapse in tax revenues – particularly from financial services. On the eve of the crisis in 2007 National Debt in relation to GDP was actually lower than inherited from Kenneth Clarke in 1997.
    The tragedy is that Labour simply failed to engage in the argument until far too late. By the time Ed Milliband came up with his denial of overspending in the TV Debates the narrative had become far too firmly established so that Ed’s response was greeted with incredulity by audience members.Whilst that reflected their ignorance and economic illiteracy, it also illustrated the consequence of Labour not having fought its corner back in 2010 and 2011. Under a new Leader Labour will have a chance to put the record straight, and it is also much less likely that by 2020 Byrne’s letter will have potency in the same way – anymore than memories of rationing were able to damage Labour back in 1964.

  5. Tafia says:

    He was not health secretary at time of mid staffs. That happened before his tenure. He commissioned the independent Francis inquiry into it.

    He tried to keep it out of the public domain though. And if he ends up leader then it will be flung back at him every PMQs for the next 5 years – and it’s not even a position he can defend, he’ll just have to lump it and put up with it week in, week out, live on TV.

    Not to mention that he’s already been marked up as McCluskey’s rent boy.

    Drip, drip, drip, drip and he’s not even won yet.

  6. Rahaab says:

    Burnham’s strategy is to be the only candidate on the ballot.

  7. 07052015 says:

    Is it time to shut this site down atul or hand it over to someone who can be constructive -maybe dan or jason ,john or collins.

    You seem very mad at chuka – get behind yvette its yer only chance.

  8. London says:

    We need someone engaging, smart, honest, focussed on what the public want, probably a woman, and above all fresh. I would say that person is Liz Kendall.

  9. Jos Bell says:

    Well what is this all about? Who are you supporting Atul? Have they yet declared?

    On your two main points you are completely flawed :

    1. Andy being Chief Sec to the Treasury was alert to the relationship between deficit and GDP and turned back spending compared to his predecessors. He was not responsible for the crash – which began with the US laissez faire approach to Lehman Bros, Bear Stears, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae etc. – which then infected international markets. We were in a better position to deal with this as a result of Burnham’s actions than we would have been prior to his occupying the role. You should read Dan Jarvis on the subject for added clarity.

    2. As one of your other respondents has pointed out – Andy was not Sec of State at the time the Mid Staffs problems occurred – he took up post in 2009 and within a month had ordered the Francis Inquiry, which took 4 years to complete.

    In other words – please stop doing a Tory job of re-writing history. To what end? Who knows….

  10. pebboid says:

    Burnham would be the ideal choice. That way Labour would never gain power again.

  11. Madasafish says:

    Rahab:
    Burnham’s strategy is to be the only candidate on the ballot.

    That’s because it worked so well with the last Leader who did it…:-)

  12. NBeale says:

    It looks as if he will win the Labour Leadership and (almost) inevitably lose the General Election.

  13. Helen says:

    I am sure Andy Burnham is a genuine guy but he does not have the persona for a leader. To talk of emotionally connecting is too soft. Funny how no one remembers the Tory economic disaster when Lamont was Chancellor!

  14. Twinkle says:

    What can the raison d’être for the left be in the 21st century where “there is no money?”
    In the 20th century economic growth on average topped unfunded liabilities as the average age was noticeably lower and few lived more than a few years after retirement. This allowed increasing government spending year on year so left policies were based on wealth redistribution.

    In the 21st century unfunded liabilities will rise far faster than any puny economic growth the UK could attain due to our ageing demographics http://www.bis.org/publ/work300.pdf Hence dumping future debt on a declining future workforce is rank stupidity.
    Immigration cannot solve ageing demographics no matter what politicians say https://www.spi.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/PDF/wp05.pdf

    Both at EU and UK level financialization has increasingly taken over from the real economy as the returns are much better than investing in the real economy can offer. This guarantees rising inequality, low economic growth and hollowing out of the middle class http://people.virginia.edu/~ar7kf/Media/NYT%20-%20Bruce%20Bartlett%20-%20Financialization%20as%20a%20Cause%20of%20Economic%20Malaise.pdf

    At both UK and EU the richest 1% ensure government is always in their pockets through lobbying http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3085342/Stop-listening-insular-ruling-elite-help-poor-Cameron-s-ex-guru-Steve-Hilton-warns-Tory-PM.html#ixzz3aTL5Gagq
    Since they favour making themselves ever-richer at the cost of the 99% and hence favour further financialization then growth is the real economy will remain low.
    There will not be any meaningful investment in the real economy so reducing debt will be extremely difficult.

    …When an economy grows at 1 percent annually but investment returns are 5 percent, the already wealthy need to reinvest only a fifth of their gains for their fortunes to grow at the same rate as the overall economy. The rest can be spent on a sumptuous lifestyle.
    Since by definition the very rich do not need to consume 80 percent of their incomes — the portion by which investment returns exceed the growth of the economy in Piketty’s model — they can reinvest most of their annual gains in the market. Over time this accumulating capital will snowball… http://www.globalresearch.ca/whats-the-primary-cause-of-wealth-inequality-financialization/5374930

    Hence the UK is already moving towards a low wage economy for many. Life changes are worse for many ordinary people who a generation or two ago could expect to be able to afford to buy their own house and have a permanent job with prospects. Prospects for their children are worse today. The public are well aware of these changes.
    It’s only the elite clones who are themselves part of the 1% that are clueless.

  15. Spiv says:

    Labour confused a debt bubble for prosperity and spent it! Remember “no more boom and bust”?

    Every labour government ends in economic turmoil.

    What happened to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore etc etc.

  16. Guy Lambert says:

    I confess I’m not too convinced about any of them. Burnham and Cooper are well known and respected, but I’m not sure either is the leader we need. I was hopeful for Liz K (about whom I knew, and still know, very little) but I thought she was appalling on Newsnight. Mary Creagh I confess I had barely heard of and still know nothing about.
    I suppose the upside of a long contest is that we’ll find out properly about all of them (or all who remain)
    I agree wholeheartedly with every word Graham Harries says, and would only add that it is astonishing (and a political triumph) that George Osborne seems to have not only trashed Labour’s record – we should not forget it was excellent up to the crash, and pretty good overall including the crash if you take the complete view of their term in office – but convinced everybody that he is an economic genius when he has failed miserably to meet any of the targets he set himself, with the sole (and important) exception of unemployment.

  17. Madasafish says:

    Twinkle
    I know a few people from humble backgrounds who studied science and engineering , worked very hard and are now paid in excess of £250k in those fields.

    If you leave school with few qualifications, semi illiterate or with an arts type background, you are amongst millions looking for a semi skilled or unskilled job. You cannot expect to be paid well.. when there is so much competition.

    And which party is looking to encourage that type of engineering/science based business to expand in the UK.. Not Labour. I am not saying the Tories are better .. but they are not violently anti business.

    I am reminded of the Labour supporters who whinge about the huge sums donated by business to the Tories. Labour are outspent at GE time. They seem to not realise that by being anti business, Labour are just encouraging donations to .. the Conservatives!

    If you want better pay, get some skills. And discourage immigration by people willing to take low paid jobs at low rates of pay. And don’t subsidise businesses which pay low pay rates – through Working Tax Credits.

    Hardly difficult to work out – except for a man who had no experience of the real world and ended up as Party Leader.

    If you want better paid jobs, gain skills and encourage business. Hardly new news.

  18. Gabriel Scally says:

    Your piece carries a serious inaccuracy concerning Andy Burnham. You, inadvertently no doubt, potentially smear Andy Burnham’s good record in health when you state, “Burnham in particular was the health secretary when the travesty of Mid Staffs occurred.”
    The episode of appalling care at the Mid-Staffordshire Trust took place from 2005 to 2008. Andy Burnham was appointed Health Secretary in June 2009. The following month, 21st July 2009, he announced the Francis independent inquiry into Mid-Staffs.
    I’m sure you will want to correct this unfortunate and serious inaccuracy.

  19. Bob McMahon says:

    It’s a shame Frank Field was never the party’s leader.

  20. Mike says:

    Stupid character assassinations like this do the Tories’ work for them.

    If a Labour blog is going to parrot Tory smears rather than rebut them, we really are headed for hell in a handcart.

  21. Madasafish says:

    Mike
    Think about this.

    In 2010 I posted on Labour List that Ed Miliband was effectively a dud: out of touch, a geek. Unskilled with “normal” people.
    I was decried as a stooge, a Tory plant and people said and I quote “the Tories fear Ed which is why they are criticising him “.

    No criticsm was allowede. It was disloyal – but this was before Ed was elected.

    Now it’s 2015. You are reviewing candidates. Any review will include strengths and weaknesses. Is it “character assasination” to point out that Andy Burnham set up an enquiry which was criticsed for its “narrow remit” by Robert Francis QC, who had chaired the fourth inquiry .?

    No it’s an on record weakness.. Public domain stuff… http://tinyurl.com/75hrunj

    Refusing to discuss weaknesses is why Labour elected a dud in 2010. Now you want to do the same again?

    “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Those who do are doomed to be ignored when we point it out.”

    You are indeed “headed for hell in a handbasket” as you so eloquently say… because you appear intent on repeating prior mistakes..

    Denial after a disaster is not the way to learn from mistakes.

    Of course, you may think everything in the garden is rosy…

  22. Tafia says:

    Your piece carries a serious inaccuracy concerning Andy Burnham. You, inadvertently no doubt, potentially smear Andy Burnham’s good record in health when you state, “Burnham in particular was the health secretary when the travesty of Mid Staffs occurred.”

    I think he is possibly referring to Burnham’s (failed) attempts to keep the findings out of the public domain. If he ends up as leader that is going to be flung at hoim every PMQs for the next 5 years.

  23. Mike says:

    You just linked to a Wikipedia page.

    Alternatively you could look at the actual report itself where Francis endorses Burnham’s decison not to go full public on the grounds that many witnesses would not have come forward.

    And isn”t it odd, that there are hordes of people who think Burnham was in some way covering up Mid-Staffs, who have no opinion whatsoever on Jeremy Hunt not holding a public inquiry for Morecambe Bay? Why it’s almost as if they don’t actually care about the NHS.

    So Burnham gets jettisoned for Mid-Staffs, so we get Yvette and the whispering starts about Balls’ puppet, or Chuka and he gets pitched as conceited and posh, or Tristram and he gets the same treatment. We can’t let the Tory press select a leader

    It’s about time this party got into aggressive rebuttal. It almost doesn’t matter who the leader is, until we get a Mandelson or Campbell back into the PR machine and start making these people know that if they lie and smear there are consequences. The Tory narrative on the economy is batshit, but it’s accepted wisdom now, because no-one has had the gonads to contradict it.

    Just out of interest who was your preferred candidate in 2010? Was it the notably ungeeky and in-touch-with-ordinary-people David. Because I really don’t believe that was ever going to fly.

  24. Madasafish says:

    Mike
    Just out of interest who was your preferred candidate in 2010? Was it the notably ungeeky and in-touch-with-ordinary-people David. Because I really don’t believe that was ever going to fly”

    Ed Miliband was the best for the UK then.

    Just as Andy Burnham is now.

    Labour needs to connect with real people again. I see no signs of it wanting to.

    The background of its four would be leaders – ALL Oxbridge with an Arts degree – says it all. None of them want Labour to change..

    Labour needs a cleansing on an epic degree.. .

    Pity because the country needs an effective Opposition. I may be wrong but I cannot see any of teh four providing it.. Too much history and not enough competence. As for charisma? A joke.

  25. michael says:

    This article misses a crucial point: the Labour membership is decidedly NOT like the electorate at large.

    The biggest clue to this is in the election result itself but it should surely be obvious that a self-selecting group aligned on the basis of politics is not going to resemble the heterogeneous wider mass of electors.

    And to everyone saying it’s unfair to tar Burnham with the Mid-Staffs brush, maybe you’re right and maybe you’re wrong. But it will happen anyway and Labour would lose as a result.

  26. Bob says:

    Mike, Burnham could have held a public enquirey into Mid Staffs therefore compelling witnesses to attend and give evidence under oath. Remember the HoC Health Select Committee did that investing the case of Gary Walker who was forced out of Lincoln hospital NHS Trust.

    Hunt has not announced an enquirey into Morcambe Bay as the police investigation has only in the past month finished. You cannot have an public enquirey whilst a potential CRIMINAL investigation is going on.

    I’m just waiting for the Iraq War report to be published.

  27. Tafia says:

    Alternatively you could look at the actual report itself where Francis endorses Burnham’s decison

    Mike, that’s the point. It was Burnham’s decision – he consciously chose to deliberately attempt to make sure the public would not find out. That was and appalling misuse of power, an amateurish attempt at a cover up, and an equally appalling poor decision. Whichever advisors thought that was clever aren’t fit to be zero hour shelf stackers in poundland and his judgement as a Minister of the Crown is equally shoddy and low grade.. He literally allowed himself to be hit over the head with a mallet and that’s exactly what happened – so he’s got no complaints. Walking into an ambush is unlucky. Walking into an ambush with both eyes open and knowing where it is is inexcusable.

    And like Isaid – if he ends up leader it will be used to hit him with, on live TV, every week at PMQs. That and the constant accusation he will face of being McCluskey’s bitch. Can he survive 5 years of that in full glare week in, week out?

    Labour would be better positioned if it selected a leader with no connection to the Blair and Brown years, no big connection to any major union and having proper work experience in the private sector. And if that means writing off 2020 then so be it – take it on the chin and fight to minimise losses. But if Labour don’t, then you have not reached bottom yet and 2020 will be more catastrophic than 2015 has been, you’ll be crucifying another leader, having this debate all over again and be even more toxic with your core voters than you are now.

  28. John P Reid says:

    Madasafiah is right

    Swatantra, like me you backed Andy last it with Ed second, as David didn’t understand how unpopular we were,Ed and Andy did, but Eds view to get back those who left, was to go back to old labour that was never going to work, I know you were going to back Chuka, but wisely he’s dropped out, as he wouldn’t appeal to those outside the Westminster village, the point is, if Andy or Yvette, both really thought Ed was useless they’d have distanced themselves from the Westminster village, over the last 7 years, the way, Caroline Flint or David Lammy did ,Andy would have Been the best leader we never had last time,

    Liz Kendall and May Creagh,have both demonstrated they understand why working clas ex labour voters,voted Tory/Ukip for the first time ,last week, up north and in Scotland, our Constituency of Thurrock,is similar, the Tory vote hovered the same, the Labour vote fell,and Ukip came through, a lot if Ex labour went Ukip, tory, most of the Ex Tories who voted Ukip, left to vote Ukip, in 2005

  29. sammy gravano says:

    Guy Lambert says:… George Osborne seems to have not only trashed Labour’s record – we should not forget it was excellent up to the crash, and pretty good overall including the crash if you take the complete view of their term in office
    ——————————————————————–

    Dear me, Guy, have you never noticed how bubbles look very pretty until they go splat.

    How many of the UK’s banks would have had to have imploded *before* you said…

    ‘Yeah, maybe Labour didn’t do a great job on the economy’.

    None so blind etc.

    By the way Burnham would be a disaster for the Labour Party.

    Then again maybe I’m saying that because I’m a Tory and I fear him so much.

    So, Burnham would be great for the Labour Party.

    Happy now.

  30. John P Reid says:

    I’ve spoke to 3 ladies at over 60 all voted labour for 45 years, there Dads voted Labour, were Union men, A Miner in Wales, A docker in Newcastle and A baker at the Co-op in east London respectively, they all voted For Michael foot in 83′ they all voted Tory for the first time last week, not out of joy, but out of distress at what labour stood for, one was saying although she’d been a blue collar worker, before retiring, she now looked at labour polices was fuming about the Muslim, segregation of men and Women at a meeting,didn’t trust us with the economy, thought the Tories were wrong in several things like elected police commissioner the scrapping of the HRA ,but thought labour didn’t realize about the state of the economy, one of the Ladies said that after the strike,she saw her dad in the scrap heap, but as the jobs went in Wales she became her own boss of small business labour now,didn’t understand business,and with a heavy heart she voted labour, because her shares in her business would continue, that maybe a selfish thing, compared to labour,spending what we hadn’t got to create a false job economy, but her Business could create jobs, if the Tories carried in building the economy,
    Three areas , Wales ,north West of England and Essex that Labour needs to get back,the only interesting thing is I like many in that area, they isn’t vote Ukip.

  31. Mike says:

    Bob. Hunt announcing the inquiry in the Commons didn’t cite a criminal investigation as his reason for not making it public, rather the sensitivity of the subject. In any case I’m no lawyer but I don’t think a public inquiry is precluded by a possible prosecution. Otherwise Leveson would never have happened.

    I don’t usually have a lot of time for Hunt, but think he generally did well on Morecambe Bay.

  32. Bob says:

    Mike, if I remember correctly, normally you have the Coroners and or criminal investigation first and in the case of Morcambe Bay. I feel that the police investigation should have had primacy as mothers and children died at that hospital. Leveson, nobody died just people were corrupt and criminal.

    In my opinion these sort of investigations should be totally open and witness’s compelled to attend and give evidence to the inquiry under pain of charges of perverting the course of justice and perjury. If found guilty locked up for the maximum term of 14 years.

  33. Paul Smyth says:

    What utter drivel. Burnham became Health Secretary in 2009. Mid Staffs occurred in 2003-2008. It DIDN’T happen on his watch and quite how he was supposed to prevent a Worldwide Financial crisis that had been brewing for years and occurred outside of this country as Chief Secretary to the Treasury is beyond me. Perhaps Atul you’d be better served going back to your crayons because you’re ability to write and fact check an article is frankly abysmal. I’m sure this comment will disappear very quickly if it’s approved at all but we both know what you’ve done here. Told a pack of lies because you don’t like Andy Burnham. I expect he’s too Northern for you.

  34. mike says:

    Bill. I don’t get you. If you think the police investigation should have had primacy, then why was there any independent investigation at all, given that the findings were always going to be made public.

    In any case Hunt made no mention of sub judice in his reasoning as to why the Morecambe Bay should not be public in 2013 “This is not… a Public Inquiry as the requirements for public evidence sessions are not considered suitable for the privacy and tact with which this investigation must be undertaken.” (Source: Hansard)

    For the record, I think that was a good decision. Generally I can’t stand Hunt, but his statements on Morecambe Bay have been mature, measured and compassionate, and largely bipartisan. As have Burnham’s.

    You wrote: “I feel that the police investigation should have had primacy as mothers and children died at that hospital. Leveson, nobody died just people were corrupt and criminal.”
    With all due respect, that’s your distinction not the law’s. A crime is a crime, and a court case a court case. There’s no moral escalator at work.

    I’m not sure about this locking people up for 14 years either. Last time I checked the maximum sentence was 7, and you only got that for lying in murder cases.

  35. mike says:

    Mods
    “And do party members believe that Andy Burnham, secretary of state for health at the time of Mid Staffs”

    Given that a number of respondents have pointed out that this just isn’t true, would it not be fair to correct it?

  36. Tafia says:

    Mike & Paul Smyth – you miss the point quite dramatically. Burnham was SoS when he rather clumsily and very amateurishly attempted to keep the information out of the public domain. Apart from that, the whole affair happened under Labour’s watch and although he wasn’t Health, he was still Cabinet.

    And that, given what happened, was inexcusable. and will be used against him should he be Leader, by the tories wherever and whenever they are able to.

  37. Mike says:

    This is how a Burnham smear goes:

    Someone calls Burnham the butcher of mid-Staffs (or North or West Staffs, because they care so deeply about the issue) and refers to him having killed 1,200 patients.
    At which point you ask politely if they’ve read the Francis report which makes no reference to such a figure, and whether they know the difference between an HSMR and an actual death.
    At which point they say, “well yeah, how many deaths do you think he was responsible for?”
    To which you politely respond, you do realise that he wasn’t Secretary of State over this period?
    To which you get the response, “Yeah well he tried to cover it up?”
    To which you reply, he established an independent inquiry within three weeks of taking office, which published a full report. He also recommended a second one in its wake, which the Government presumed would be a public inquiry.
    To which you get the response, but it wasn’t a public one.
    To which you say, OK the Last Government’s inquiry into Morecambe Bay was an independent one , not a public one. Have you been shouting about that being a cover up as well?
    At which point they go a bit quiet.

    This is what the knuckle-draggers at Order, Order do. Bit depressing to see people on a Labour website do it too.

  38. Tafia says:

    Mike, it’s not a smear it’s a point of historical record. Burnham tried to play it down and keep it out of the public domain. That is what will be thrown at him week in week out. He is contaminated and easy meat for the tories and if Labour select him they deserve what will happen.:-

    Shaun Lintern, a reporter on the Health Service Journal, pointed out that Mr Burnham had always blocked a full public inquiry into Mid Staffs while in office, preferring a more limited probe. Mr Burnham replied: “I was worried that a full public inquiry would damage the trust beyond repair. Think that’s been borne out.”

    Burnham appointed QC Robert Francis to investigate Mid Staffs in 2009 but blocked calls for a public inquiry, saying it would be too “distracting for managers”. His Tory successor Andrew Lansley upgraded the investigation to a full public inquiry after the Coalition took office in 2010. The Francis report uncovered evidence of similar scandals in other NHS hospitals and produced 290 recommendations to improve patient care and safety. Burnham said the lessons could have been learned without a full public inquiry. And he accused ministers of failing to stand by the hospital trust as its reputation was – very deservedly and correctly, shredded in public.

  39. Mike19 says:

    The next Labour Prime Minister ( not leader ) has probably not even entered the Commons yet!

  40. Dan says:

    There are 2 issues that would be used to attack Burnham, one is Mid Staffs.

    He was not SoS when the bulk of the poor care was happening BUT he was a junior Minister at the Dept of Health in 2006-7, and all the junior Ministers have a geographical patch, his included Mid Staffs and he was responsible for authorizing them as a Foundation Trust.

    He was barely there a year, any other Minister would also have authorised such a reccomendation brought to him by the Civil Service but he was the one there at the time.

    He then took the view that a full Public Inquiry was the wrong way to handle the issue, that may have been partly for sound reasons, but it was almost certainly also at least partly for Party Political reasons in 2009-10. There are a handful of determined local campaigners who blame him personally with a real passion for as they see it trying to cover up a scandal. They will be used by the Tories and the Tabloids to push half truths and exaggerations.

    His time as Chief Secretary is 2007-9. The issue of running a deficit before the crash is partly about bringing in more Tax and partly about spending less. Brown set the overall totals and if you needed to be bringing in more Tax or spending less it was really 2005-7 that was the issue but that subtle distinction will be ignored. Since the election we have moved from trying to ignore the issue, to coming out with some weasel words about should not have run as large a deficit. Which is translated as “see you admit it you spent too much” and Andy Burnham was in charge of spending.

    Im sorry but it may not be fair but he will be attacked over both these issues and if he becomes leader will need a very good defence.

    In simple demographic terms he also comes across as the NORTHERN Candidate when the seats we need to win to get a Majority are elsewhere.

  41. Roger says:

    I suspect Atul, Director of Migration Matters, wants Liz Kendall or Mary Creagh because they are both pro-mass-immigration. He did well not to mention it though.

    That and the overwhelming public opposition to his ideology, including from many migrants themselves.

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