Andy Burnham has been re-elected as mayor of Greater Manchester today on the basis of first preference votes alone, with 473,024 casting their ballots for Labour, giving him a majority of 335,271.
The incumbent secured an increased vote share of 67%, up from 63% in 2017. On a turnout of 32.9%, he won against Tory challenger Laura Evans who came second with 137,753 votes.
In his victory speech, Burnham said Labour had run a “powerful, positive campaign” in the mayoral election. In a reference to The Courteneers, he declared: “God bless the band. If you know, you know.”
The Greater Manchester mayor said: “I value every single vote you have given me. I know people who normally support other parties have voted for me. I always remember that and respect it.
“I will continue to be a voice for all people and all communities. I will continue to adopt a place-first, not party-first, approach. Where the government gets it right and treats us fairly, I will work with them.
“But where they don’t, I will challenge them for you as forcefully as I can. Greater Manchester expects nothing less. This vote sends a clear message to all Westminster parties: people are buying into English devolution.
“They are telling you to deliver more of it, not less. They like us having the ability to do more for ourselves, to do things that are right for Greater Manchester. They can see how it’s making politics work better for them…
“Don’t give us devolution and be surprised if we answer you back, particularly if you do things here that you would never dare to do in London. People are saying they want the ‘levelling up’ that has been promised.”
On ‘levelling up’, he added: “It can’t be achieved by scattering funds across a few favoured places. It can be achieved when you give millions of people in a city region like this one a modern, affordable public transport system.”
He said it also meant giving everyone “the dignity of decent work”, not having to move south to “get on in life, which I had to do 30 years ago”, and allowing everyone to have a “good, secure home”.
Burnham announced: “Better jobs, better homes, better transport. These will be my top priorities. We will hit the ground running next week with major moves on all three, starting with transport.”
He reiterated that he would build a “London-style public transport system with London-level fares” and said he had a “resounding mandate to bring our buses back under public control”.
Accused by Sky’s Sophy Ridge of delivering a speech that sounded “like a leadership pitch”, Burnham replied: “Not at all, I’ve got the best job in the world, in the best city region in the world.”
On whether he could rule out running for the Labour leadership, he said: “I’ve been elected as mayor of Greater Manchester, as I say, that’s where my focus is. I left Westminster politics – I’m not an MP.”
The Labour mayor added: “In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, I’m here and they should get in touch. But no, I’m here and I want to support Labour nationally.”