Andy Burnham leaves open possibility of another tilt at Labour leadership

Andy Burnham, September 2010 by Victoria MacDonald

During the last Labour leadership contest Andy Burnham ruled out running for a third time, telling PoliticsHome that he wouldn’t be standing again.

Yet in an interview with Liverpool Echo the shadow home secretary seemed to leave space for another go. When asked whether he would run again he said:

“I always thought not. I’ve tried twice and I think there’s a limit to how many times you can stand. I have the feeling that if it was to be my time it would have been this one. But you don’t know what the future brings. I’ve always said I will always serve the party in any way I can but I don’t expect to [run again].”

This kind of language seems to echo that of the Tory Boris Johnson, who when asked about the party leadership said that “if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum, which it won’t of course, it would be a great, great thing to have a crack at.”

Burnham has previously said he “definitely” won’t be standing again, but perhaps he hopes that when Labour needs a new leader he might be called on in the manner of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman dictator who only took power when called upon by the empire.

Image Credit – Andy Burnham, September 2010 by Victoria MacDonald

Andy Burnham ‘privately’ says Jeremy Corbyn ‘disaster for the Labour party’

Andy Burnham, FT Summer Party 2015

The Labour leadership contest having drawn to a close, many of the candidates other than hard leftist Jeremy Corbyn have already half-conceded defeat, with the winner due to be announced sometime on Saturday.

Whilst pols make a habit of playing nice with each other in public, in private they are not so polite. And Andy Burnham, at one time the frontrunner in the contest and still a potential shadow minister, is unimpressed with the way the election has gone:

“Privately, it is a disaster for the Labour party. I mean, publicly, he is a nice man, a nice individual. He believes in the things he campaigns on so he’s not a fraud in any way. But I think the public will think Labour has given up on ever being a government again.”

The footage was shot in an undercover sting by the Sun, which at least one cynic has suggested might be motivated by Burnham’s record standing up for victims’ families in the Hillsborough disaster.

Even so, there is clearly now some distance between Corbyn’s rivals and the rest of the Labour party, whose ranks have swelled in the wake of the general election to some 550,000 members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters.

All of which is awkward, given the safe bet is that Corbyn will be crowned on Saturday.

Image Credit – Andy Burnham, FT Summer Party 2015

28 percent of Corbyn supporters think ‘world is controlled by secretive elite’

Illuminati Eye Re Black by Wendelin Jacober

Some 28 percent of those likely to vote for hard leftist Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election strongly agreed with the view that “the world is controlled by a secretive elite.”

Those backing the North Islington MP are more likely to describe themselves as “dreamers”, oppose being told what to do and welcome change than those opting for the other three candidates in the election, according to data from the pollster YouGov.

Labour leadership attitudes survey, August 2015, YouGov

Commenting on these specific findings, which were taken outside of the context of the Labour leadership election, Freddie Sayers, editor-in-chief of YouGov, said:

At first, the loose positivity of being a ‘dreamer’ seems to clash with the almost militant-sounding statements that the ‘world is controlled by a secretive elite’ and ‘I don’t like being told what to do.’ But in the context of a perceived political elite who have defined a permissible ‘centre-ground’ and who reject as extremist any ideas outside it, it makes perfect sense. It’s not necessarily about specific policies – they are intuitively more attracted to non-conformist alternatives and Jeremy Corbyn appeals to their broader world view.

Other findings from YouGov’s polling, most of which took place in the first week of August, confirmed that Corbyn’s backers were generally poorer, more leftwing and more likely to get their news through social media than supporters of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

Policies Corbyn’s lot strongly backed included utility nationalisation (86 percent), greater redistribution of wealth (85 percent), and less private sector involvement in healthcare (84 percent).

Almost half disapproved of Royal Air Force (RAF) involvement bombing of Islamic State, two-fifths think university tuition should be entirely paid by the government, and almost two-thirds oppose the British royal family (the only sensible view – Ed).

Rather bemusingly, 18 percent of all the Labour voters polled by YouGov did not claim to be interested in politics, and 15 percent did not describe themselves as leftwing, with a small segment seeing themselves as rightwing or centre-right.

A full breakdown of the results can be seen here.

Image Credit – Illuminati Eye Re Black by Wendelin Jacober, cropped by the Right Dishonourable

Labour kicks out 3,000 ‘cheats’ over claims of sabotage and infiltration

Harriet Harman in November 2014, by University of Salford

Labour struck 3,000 voters off its leadership electoral roll on Tuesday following claims of infiltration and sabotage intended to boost hard left candidate Jeremy Corbyn to the head of the party.

Some 1,900 members of the Green party, which sits to the left of Labour, were said to have been barred from voting in the contest, compared to 400 Tories, despite a widely publicised #ToriesForCorbyn campaign leading to fears Conservatives were seeking to damage the party’s electoral chances.

Harriet Harman, acting leader of Labour, told the BBC it was not “funny or clever for people from other parties to try to cheat” their way onto the roll, even though BuzzFeed managed to sign up this cat to vote in the Labour leadership election, which was rather amusing.

Members and campaigners of other party, those not registered to vote (cats excepted) and those who have stood for election under another party’s ticket are all likely to be barred from voting under membership rules.

Earlier in the day Corbyn, who at this stage appears likely to win the leadership election, praised the influx of new supporters at a Stevenage hustings, though pollsters believe that a disproportionate numbers of newcomers will vote for him.

Speaking at the same event his rival Andy Burnham said: “I wouldn’t want to overstate this whole issue, but there is some evidence that Tories are signed up to vote.”

Under Labour rules revised during previous leader Ed Miliband’s tenure, those who support the party’s values were allowed to sign up to vote for £3 even if they do not belong to an affiliated trade union.

Around 550,000 people are expected to vote in the election, according to Labour estimates, with the result due to be announced on September 12th.

Previously the count was as high as 610,000, but the numbers were said to have dropped due to duplicate applications and entries from those not on the electoral roll used in parliamentary general elections.

Image Credit – Harriet Harman in November 2014, by University of Salford

Labour gender spat continues, Burnham acts as if maleness shouldn’t bar him from leadership

Andy Burnham, NHS Confederation 2014 by Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham squirmed when challenged on whether it would be great for the Labour party to have a women leader on BBC 5 Live on Tuesday, as the furore over his stubborn commitment to not being female continues.

Nicky Campbell, the moderator for the hustings in Stevenage, asked Burnham: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a woman-leader?” – a troubling issue for Burnham to deal with given his lack of a vagina.

Clearly flustered by the question, Burnham mumbled “in time…when the time is right” to squeals from his two female rivals in the leadership campaign, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

“When the right candidate comes forward,” he finished lamely, no doubt aware the twitterati were already circling:

Just what Burnham was supposed to say to that question, which seems to suggest somebody would make a better leader because of their sex, is unclear. The stupidity of it was picked up by at least one Twitter user:

The near-gaff follows on from a spat in July provoked by Cooper, who complained that it would be “startlingly retro” if two men were elected to be leader and deputy leader for Labour. As if some crazy people are voting purely based on suitability for the job…

Hear the clip from BBC 5 Live below.


Image Credit – Andy Burnham, NHS Confederation 2014 by Andy Burnham