Burnham aims to “revitalise” Labour in North with Manchester Mayor bid

19th May, 2016 12:01 am

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham will today set out his plan to “revitalise Labour in the North”, as he kicks off his campaign to become the Labour candidate for the Greater Manchester Mayor.

The Shadow Home Secretary confirmed his interest in the role last night following weeks of speculation, and will launch his campaign in earnest with a speech at the Lowry Theatre in Salford today.

“I can confirm today that I will be putting my name forward to stand as the first elected Mayor for Greater Manchester,” he will say. “I want to win this contest not by the strength of my organisation but by the strength of my vision for Greater Manchester.

“This is not just a chance to build Greater Manchester. It is also a chance to revitalise Labour in the North.”

Burnham will argue that the role “is a Cabinet-level job that requires Cabinet-level experience”, as he sets out his plans for technical education, an integrated health and care service and prioritising major investment in a west-east high speed rail line in the North. He is expected to say that he wants to make Manchester a “beacon of social justice” in the UK.

He is the third candidate to announce they will see the Labour nomination, after Ivan Lewis and Tony Lloyd.

“Greater Manchester can be even greater than it is today,” Burnham is expected to say. “A major European economic and creative centre – unashamedly entrepreneurial and endlessly innovative – but at the same time, and here’s the crucial part, a beacon of social justice in this country and to Europe and the World.

“That is a vision which I think captures the essence of Manchester. It is full of people who want to get on but who also want to give back. This is a vision that would make us unique and set us apart. It is one people could buy into. Yes, let’s help people to succeed. But let’s never forget our roots and those coming after us.

“That’s the spirit of Manchester that I will seek to capture as Mayor. Greater Manchester will be a place where people are supported to succeed, where success is shared and where no-one is left behind. With people and values like ours, there should be nothing we can’t achieve.”

The former leadership candidate, who is MP for the Greater Manchester seat of Leigh, will say that he wants Manchester “to lead a revolution in technical education” by aspiring to ensure there is “a quality apprenticeship for every young person who gets the grades”.

On housing, he says he plans “to use the Mayor’s housing fund to buy out the absent private landlords” and return empty houses to public stock.

Burnham will also challenge George Osborne to “put his money where his mouth is” on transport infrastructure in order to prove he is “serious about a Northern Powerhouse”.

“We have put up with outdated, overcrowded rail services for too long. So I will make it my business to ensure the Government commits to major investment in brand new high-speed East-West rail across the North. Let me be clear: this is the top priority for the country, not Crossrail 2,” he will say.

And, in an echo of his priorities as Shadow Health Secretary and as a leadership candidate last summer, he will also spell out a plan to integrate health and social care in the region, saying:

“There is one way that Greater Manchester can stand out as a beacon of social justice perhaps more than any other – and that is how we care for older or vulnerable people. As Mayor, I will make it my mission to build here the country’s first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service – working to bring social care into the public sector and the NHS; taking Bevan’s great vision from the last century and updating it for this.”

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn refused to be drawn into the race for the Labour nomination, but said: “These jobs are very important nowadays.”

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