Posts Tagged ‘Andy Burnham’

The Uncuts: 2017 political awards (part IV)

02/01/2018, 06:08:11 PM

Flash in the pan award – metro mayors

Eight months on from the election of the first swathe of ‘metro mayors’ in some of our larger conurbations, and, well…

Only Andy Burnham has anything close to a national profile, aided by the fact he has responsibility for the NHS and social care system across Greater Manchester and easily rose the occasion, responding to the ISIS suicide attack on Manchester Arena last May.

The Tories’ Andy Street – former John Lewis boss – is assiduously working away on a second tranche of devolution for the West Midlands, but his strong anti-Brexit stance will hardly endear him to his colleagues in Westminster.

The basic problem for the metro mayors is that the whole idea feels like it’s reached its peak.

They have two big problems.

First, they have a near-impossible task in showing they’ve achieved anything by the time they’re up for re-election in 2020. They have precious little in the way of retail powers. Producing a draft spatial strategy, or appointing a ‘fairness czar’ is hardly going to cut it with the voters.

The second problem is that Whitehall has moved on. Devolution was Osborne’s thing and there’s little sense Theresa May – more excited about her ‘Modern Industrial Strategy’ – is remotely interested in prolonging the experiment.

You can imagine a scenario in the Downing Street bunker when a solemn Burnham appears on the television, and the PM flings one of her garish shoes at the telly. ‘Why have we given Burnham a platform to slag us off every day?!’

‘Dunno boss,’ a flunky will say, ‘Osborne thought it was a good idea…’

And that will be all it needs. Local authority leaders on the Combined Authorities will get to keep the devo deals they’ve negotiated but they’ll no longer be contingent on having an elected mayor. The Prime Minister can leave Labour council leaders to wield the dagger quicker than you can say ‘Infamy! Infamy!’

Little local difficulty award – Ireland & Brexit

It all seemed so easy, the Irish border issue. Last January, during her Lancaster House speech setting out her initial approach to Brexit, the Prime Minister breezily passed over the issue entirely. Not one specific mention was made of how the border would be sorted, post-Brexit.

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Leadership fix machine cranks into action for selections in safe seats

25/04/2017, 09:50:14 PM

While the general election played out in the country today, within the Labour party, the focus has been on selections for the 14 seats where Labour MPs are retiring.

On a day of swirling rumours and frayed tempers, long lists have started to be drawn up by the party as Corbynites battle to secure places for their favoured candidates.

In practical terms, the available seats for this political game of musical chairs is a lot less than 14.

Five seats are off the table because they are likely to be lost – Slough, Hartlepool, Birmingham Edgbaston, Wolverhampton South West and Middlesborough South and East Cleveland.

The scale of potential revolt in the local party in Lewisham West and Penge at the prospective imposition of a Corbynite seems to have put off the leadership there while Metro Mayor candidate Steve Rotheram has fended off the threat of having the leader’s son, Seb Corbyn, foisted on Liverpool Walton. Current Liverpool city Mayor, Joe Anderson, is the hot favourite for this, the safest Labour seat in the country.

That leaves six seats – Leigh, Hull West and Hessle, Blaydon, Barnsley East, North West Durham and Oxford East.

Corbyn spokesperson Sam Tarry is in the frame for Hull West and Hessle, preferred over David Prescott, son of John and recent Corbyn speech-writer (albeit for a few weeks before being moved out of the leader’s office).

Rumours are that Katy Clark, Corbyn’s political secretary is being lined up for Leigh, despite recent incumbent Andy Burnham having written an open letter opposing the imposition of a non-local candidate and backing his constituency secretary, Joanne Platt.

Barnsely East, former seat of Michael Dugher, is also being eyed by the leadership as a destination for a preferred candidate, as much to punish Dugher for his outspoken criticism of the leadership as to secure a seat for a Corbynite. Names mentioned in relation to Barnsley East include Katy Clark again and Karie Murphy.

Murphy is Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff having formerly been Tom Watson’s office manager and the candidate at the heart of the catastrophic Falkirk row in the last parliament. Following Falkirk, she was reportedly blocked from the Halifax selection just before the 2015 election, by Harriet Harman.

The machinations will continue for the rest of the week, consuming the focus of the senior party leadership and burning another week of the general election campaign.

 

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Corbynites accused of trying to parachute loyalists into seats

24/04/2017, 03:52:02 PM

Speculation swirls that allies of Jeremy Corbyn are set to be parachuted into seats where the Labour MP is stepping down, bolstering support for the Corbynites in the event of a post-election leadership challenge.

Candidates for Labour’s vacant seats were asked to submit CVs by lunchtime yesterday and given the election campaign is already underway, the National Executive Committee can impose candidates.

Sitting Labour MPs are automatically reselected, presenting the temptation to parachute leadership-friendly candidates into seats Labour has a good chance of holding.

The Greater Manchester seat of Leigh, where Andy Burnham is stepping down to concentrate of the forthcoming metro mayoral battle, is a plum berth for someone, inheriting a 14,096 majority.

However Burnham has fired a warning shot to the leadership with an open letter, backing his constituency secretary, Joanne Platt, as his successor. The letter reads:

‘I am in no doubt that Leigh needs a Labour candidate with strong local credentials and that the best person to succeed me is Councillor Joanne Platt.

‘Jo is well-known and well-liked across the Leigh area. She is an excellent campaigner and has been the driving force behind the reinvigoration of Leigh Labour Party in recent years.’

Burnham warns:

‘Were the Party to opt for a candidate with no local ties, I have to make clear that this would not be supported by the vast majority of our members and would go down very badly with the Leigh public. This would run the risk of losing significant support at the Election and it is why it is my strong advice that this course should not be followed.’

There is a similar situation in Liverpool Walton, where Steve Rotheram is standing down to contest the Liverpool mayoral role. The seat – Labour’s safest with an impregnable 27,777 majority on 72 per cent of the vote – is certainly a prize.

Last week, Liverpool’s elected city mayor, Joe Anderson, announced that he was going for Walton, with rumours (now dampened down) that Jeremy Corbyn’s son, 25 year-old Seb, an aide to John McDonnell, was also set to stand.

As the NEC and regional boards begin the process of earmarking candidates for seats this week, they will need to tread softly in case they trigger a local backlash at any imposition of candidates.

Meanwhile, the left needs to be cautious having (rightly) complained about Blairite fixing in the past.  It would be a case of ‘two legs good, four legs bad’ if Corbynites now do the same thing.

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Metro mayors have one chance to get this right

22/12/2016, 01:00:59 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The fashion in political ideas often reflects a particular moment in time.

After a few lonely years at the Treasury, George Osborne realised he was missing a trick in trying to revive Britain’s wheezing economy on a single, Greater London engine.

The former Chancellor’s solution was the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

After rashly scrapping regional development agencies in 2010, he would revive the northern economy with an infusion of powers and money, topped off with elected mayors to give the enterprise some political leadership and direct accountability.

The series of devo deals that he negotiated with Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands are sensible and workmanlike and, given time, will make a major difference to the economic performance of the north and midlands.

But the problem remains in explaining exactly how metro mayors will fit in. What will they actually do?

Launching his campaign to become Labour’s standard-bearer in Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham promised to end the ‘complacency’ of the Manchester music scene, which, he contended, was ‘trading on the big names of the past too much’. (Bursaries for bass players, perhaps?)

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Will metro mayors last the course?

11/08/2016, 11:48:43 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Westminster has woken up in the last 48 hours to the fact that there are shortly to be new centres of power in British politics.

Although Labour has merely unveiled its candidates for elections in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the West Midlands, it is hard to see, catastrophe aside, how Andy Burnham, Sion Simon and Steve Rotheram won’t actually be running these great conurbations in nine months’ time.

That certainty aside, there still other uncertainties about the roles:

1) The metro mayors will create a cadre of ‘disruptive’ new players in British politics.

At least that was George Osborne’s hope. Will Theresa May see things that way? The jury’s out. She was certainly a fan of direct democracy when it came to police and crime commissioners, but the election of the first wave of metro mayors in the Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham ‘city-regions’ next May is almost certainly an all-Labour affair in the party’s heartlands. Not much for Tories to celebrate. Will the new PM thank the old Chancellor for lumbering her with a new gang of provincial opponents?

2) The devolution of power also means it spreads more widely.

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What if Burnham had won last year?

22/07/2016, 06:00:25 PM

by Kevin Meagher

There’s a lot of ‘whatifery’ around the Labour party at the moment. What if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected with a bigger majority? What if there’s a snap general election? What if there’s a serious attempt to impose mandatory reselections on sitting Labour MP?

Here’s a more abstract thought for the start of the traditional silly season: what if Andy Burnham, rather than Jeremy Corbyn had been elected Labour leader last July?

Clearly Corbyn romped home with 65 per cent of the vote, so it wasn’t exactly a close-run thing, but Burnham was second (meaning this counter-factual is not outside the realms of plausibility).

Looking back, it now seems quite unbelievable that intelligent people ever thought Liz Kendall was in with a shout of winning. Her derisory 4.5 per cent of the vote – fewer than one in twenty eventually backed her – was a cataclysmic defeat.

It doesn’t reflect on her as a person or as a smart, effective politician. The neo-Blairite flag she marched to war under was utterly cursed from the start. It was a drubbing the likes of which the party’s right has never faced before.

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The A-Z of Corbsplaining

11/10/2015, 09:59:54 PM

There’s been a lot of change in the Labour party of late – new people joining, new faces at the top and new language being used.

To help readers, Uncut has produced this handy guide to Corbsplaining, keeping you up to date with the party’s exciting new vocabulary.

Print it out, take it to your local CLP meeting and dazzle Labour friends and colleagues with your Corbsplaining skills.

Next stop, the NEC!

A

Assist members making their voice heard – Use veteran hard left organisers to corral a herd of £3 hipsters to deselect troublesome MPs.

Austerity – Any cut to public spending, of any kind, at any point, by any level of government. Does not include cuts to military spending, which are completely different and fine.

B

Britain – Socialist utopia with a progressive majority that opposes all austerity*

*Apart from at general elections

Burnhamite – A malleable substance that can bend and merge to form any shape required of it before ultimately imploding.

C

Corbynite – A rare and abstruse substance that destroys the trust of voters.

Campaign Group – A group of MPs who do not campaign but do tweet a lot.

D

Democracy – A vital part of civilisation, to be protected and supported at all costs*.

*Not applicable to residents of Iran, Russia, Donbass, Gaza, Lebanon or Venezuela.

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Corbyn, Cooper and Burnham are being outflanked by Osborne on devolution

09/09/2015, 09:20:18 AM

by Nick Small

As the next Labour leader takes office, a number of big northern English city regions will sign-off devolution deals with central government.  These deals will see new powers and funding devolved from Whitehall to elected city region on transport, skills, business support, funding, inward investment, welfare to work and potentially policing, fire services and health.

The deals won’t be perfect and, yes, some cuts will undoubtedly be devolved.  But it will be the biggest transfer of power away from the centre since the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly were set up in 1998 with up to £60bn of funding being devolved from Whitehall.   And it will start a process that could fundamentally change our great northern cities’ dependency on London for good.

Devolution and austerity are in some ways two sides of the same coin.  For cities like Liverpool there are only two ways out of austerity.

The first thing we can do is to break down silos between different parts of government and move to place based funding and delivery of public services.  This lets us do more with less.

The second is to boost our local economy to strengthen our tax base in a progressive way.

This is what we’ve been doing in Liverpool over the last five years.  A devolution deal would allow us to build on that work and to keep more tax receipts raised locally to spend locally.  It’s not an option to go back to the 1980s and the grotesque chaos of illegal budgets.  Let’s not forget that those tactics failed then, they hit working people the hardest and did untold reputational damage to cities like Liverpool that lasted many, many years.

But the man most likely to be the next Labour leader doesn’t seem to get it, calling city devolution “a cruel deception” and “southern hot air.”  To be fair, neither Andy Burnham nor Yvette Cooper, based on past action, are instinctive decentralisers.

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Burnham can’t win, but his supporters could stop Corbyn if enough back Cooper

07/09/2015, 10:27:58 PM

by Kenny Stevenson

There has been some buzz over Yvette Cooper’s popularity spike since taking her principled and courageous stand on Europe’s refugee crisis. The bookies have slashed her odds to make her second favourite to become Labour’s new leader on Saturday. But can she conceivably overtake Jeremy Corbyn?

First things first: don’t trust the bookies. Stephen Bush has correctly pointed out they aim to maximise profit, not predict outcomes. When punters took Corbyn’s original price of 100/1, his odds began to drop. It was not until after YouGov’s membership polls that he became the odds-on favourite. So while the contest is still Corbyn’s to lose, his price is as much a reflection of bookies’ damage limitation as it is his popularity.

Similarly for Cooper, speculation over a last-minute surge – and, presumably, more people betting on her – has seen her price reduced from 10/1 to 4/1. But unlike Corbyn’s price change, there have been no membership polls to inform the bookies. Cooper’s price drop is based on hearsay. With no new polls, we should assume no significant movement in voting intentions. Corbyn is still on course to win.

So how can Cooper win? Let’s indulge in some conjecture. If we look at voting intentions reported in the last YouGov poll, the first preference breakdown is as follows:

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Liz Kendall 1. Yvette Cooper 2. Andy Burnham 3

22/08/2015, 12:58:45 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The ballot has finally arrived so it’s time to vote. Time to back the candidate who is right about what Labour must to do to regain power; to give a second preference to the candidate who could yet save Labour from self-immolation and register a third preference for a candidate not called Jeremy Corbyn.

Liz Kendall is my first preference. She has displayed guts and determination in her campaign. She’s right about the big issues and of all the candidates is the one who grasps the magnitude of Labour’s challenge in winning back public trust on the economy.

The personal abuse and level of misogyny that she’s faced is ludicrous and her response has revealed the type of steel Labour needs in its leaders.

Despite the trolls and the torrent of hate, she’s managed to secure endorsements from council leaders, trade unionists and the best and brightest of Labour’s new generation of MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and Emma Reynolds.

Liz Kendall and her platform are the future of the Labour party. It’s just a shame that her campaign hasn’t harnessed this as effectively as it might.

Too often, the message communicated to Labour members has been that they’re wrong and have to accept they are wrong.

Whatever the bald facts of a situation, simply telling voters’ that they’re mistaken is always a losing strategy.

Just as Labour’s economic message cannot continue to be based on telling the public they were wrong at the 2010 and 2015 election about the party’s spending record a decade ago, so an aspiring Labour leader cannot just be the bearer of bad tidings to the membership.

In 1994, the Blair leadership campaign was built around bridging the divide between the membership and the electorate, not telling them to jump it.

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