Why I shall vote for Andy Burnham
Deciding for which leadership candidate to vote is as hard for me as for many other supporters. I did not nominate a candidate because none of them looked very inspiring to me. It seems to me that some of them are unlikely ever to inspire the wider electorate either. None of the candidates has ever had for any length of time what many constituents would call a real job – it’s all been in and around the Westminster bubble – and that critique includes Jeremy Corbyn (for whom I am not voting) and Andy Burnham (for whom I am).
As the campaign has progressed, two candidates have grown into the role of putative leader (Burnham and Corbyn) and two have not (Cooper and Kendall). I think that Andy Burnham is much more likely to grow the appeal of Labour, and win in 2020, than any other candidate. However, it is not just about winning – important as that is. It’s also about principles, and then about the consequent policies Labour should propose for the 21st century.
Andy Burnham is right that Labour’s mission must be to revive hope, by proposing policies to tackle the insecurities and inequalities which bedevil our society. His manifesto sets out his principles and his proposals. For example, he espouses:
- “a modern comprehensive education system, replacing tuition fees with a new graduate tax, and creating new university-style support for young people seeking apprenticeships.
- “an affordable home for all to rent or own – by freeing councils to build new homes and introducing regulation of the private rented sector.
- “a secure, well-paid job for everyone – by abolishing the youth rate National Minimum Wage, establishing a true living wage for all ages, banning forced zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships.
- “affordable and reliable transport for all – through a policy of progressive re-nationalisation of our railways and re-regulation of our buses.
- “good care for all your needs from cradle to grave – and no one forced to sell their home – through a National Health and Care Service, bringing social care into the NHS.”
Andy Burnham is clear on inequality, saying: “I want to lead a Party that doesn’t just talk about equality but one that acts on it. It is unacceptable that, in the Britain we live in, your gender, the colour of your skin, a disability, your sexuality or age can all be factors that mean you have a less than equal chance of getting on in life and a more than likely chance of earning less, being out of work, being stopped and searched, having health issues or being discriminated against. As a country, we must stand together to eradicate hatred, prejudice and intolerance, rather than letting it spread. I will fight for a cross-government strategy on hate crime, from schools to social media, to tackle the growth in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. I came into politics to fight for true equality. But if we want to change our country, we must also be prepared to change ourselves.”
Andy Burnham is clear on the deficit, saying: “It is essential to have a plan to reduce the deficit, but the Tory Government’s approach of doing so almost exclusively through spending cuts will destroy the fabric of our communities and hurt the most vulnerable. Instead, I will bring forward a balanced Labour plan for a sustainable economy, based on growth and investment, fair pay, a re-balanced tax system, and a labour market that works for all. Alongside it, I will promote an industrial strategy for Britain, devised and delivered in partnership with both business and trade unions, and with government investing for the future in infrastructure and the green economy.”
Andy Burnham is not afraid to risk the ire of the right-wingers, to be bold. Without boldness, we cannot win in 2020. For example, he overtly stands up for trades unions, for re-nationalising the railways, for access to justice, for challenging TTIP
I do not agree with every word of Andy Burnham’s manifesto – one seldom does in politics – but I do agree with enough to know that he is the best candidate. This is a candidate after my own heart: not afraid to assert and use the power of the state to regulate and to intervene when there is market failure.
MP for Wolverhampton South West