Andy Burnham: A new hope for Labour, or just next in a line of failed Labour leaders?

By Isaac H

A brief profile into one of the few Labour politicians that managed to strengthen his position amongst the latest series of defeats for his party.


The series of election defeats Labour saw in early May 2021 further shattered their influence in their former heartlands culminating in the loss of Hartlepool during the by-election. One of the few areas in which Labour saw success was in the Greater Manchester Mayoral election in which the incumbent Mayor, Andy Burnham, strengthened his majority. With his hard-line mandate of anti-Thatcherism and this renewed mandate, Burnham has started to contest the current Labour leader most recently following the controversial decision to remove Angela Rayner from her position as the party chair. Here are a few reasons why Andy Burnham leading the party would be problematic (or interesting to say the least) and why he may well fail (again):


  • Andy Burnham displays a return to traditional ‘northern’ Labour, the loss of which has been a reason for the series of defeats since 2019; Labour have only been focusing on the South and neglecting Northern seats.
  • For those seemingly concerned about the privatisation of the NHS, Burnham - whilst a member of the Labour government - oversaw a great deal of the privatisation of key NHS assets. This certainly conflicts with his current policy of national industry.


As a member of the former Brown/Blair regime, Burnham will struggle getting support from the hard-left groups within the party demonstrated under Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure. There are also the radical ‘woke’ elements of the Labour Party prioritising matters of cultural appropriation and pronouns above other policies which alienate the former traditional working-class members which Andy Burnham may fail to gain traction with.


In short, although Labour currently poses no legitimate political threat to the ruling Conservative Party, Mr Burnham represents a potential issue in the sense of Labour having to turn to traditional voters. However, the conflict and shattered nature of the left could prevent the rise of any competent leader coming into power.


Image credit: The BMA 

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