Andy Burnham has said Greater Manchester could be a “beacon of social justice” for the rest of the UK, pioneering opposition to the Conservatives away from an “out-of-touch Westminster”.
The shadow home secretary, who is standing for selection to be Labour’s candidate for Greater Manchester mayor, said the country needs strong mayors who could protect people from a right-wing Conservative government.
Burnham went on to repeat his controversial claim the new wave of metropolitan mayors need “Cabinet-level experience” to meet the demands of the role, adding that the position it unique in the breadth of areas it oversees.
“This major new role will be unique in British politics. It is the first to combine responsibility for the NHS, police and other public services such as housing and transport.
“It is a Cabinet-level job that requires Cabinet-level experience. This is what I can provide. In these challenging times, I can give Greater Manchester a high-profile Mayor to get our voice heard on the national and international stage.
“Just like Sadiq Khan in London, I believe I can best serve our Party by stepping away from an out-of-touch Westminster. Strong Mayors in Greater Manchester and London can give Labour two poles of power that can protect people from the worst of this Tory Government.
“But, more than that, I am ambitious for Greater Manchester and what we can be – a beacon of social justice to the rest, proving there is a better way than the Tory way. I will also change the way we do politics here.”
Burnham served aas Health Secretary and Culture Secretary when Labour was in government, and since then has been shadow Health Secretary before taking up his shadow home secretary role. Over the past two weeks, Burnham did not join his frontbench colleagues in resigning his position, saying Jeremy Corbyn had a democratic mandate to be leader.
However, he is not the only shadow cabinet member looking to take on a metropolitan mayor role. Luciana Berger, who resigned her frontbench position two weeks ago, has previously announced she is seeking selection for the role of Liverpool City mayor.
The ballot papers for electing Labour’s candidate for Manchester have been sent to members. Burnham is standing against Tony Lloyd and Ivan Lewis. Lloyd is the current interim mayor and is Lewis is MP for Bury South.