UK

Andy Burnham savages ‘timid’ Keir Starmer as Labour leadership rival demands party is ‘bolder’

Andy Burnham savages Keir Starmer for being ‘timid’ as Labour leadership rival demands the party becomes ‘bolder’ with a vision to rebuild Britain from the pandemic

  • The ex-health secretary, piled pressure on his rival in a BBC PM interview 
  • Greater Manchester mayor: ‘Country crying out for somebody to step forward’
  • Demanded party is ‘bolder’ saying ‘it is the right party to rebuild post-pandemic’

Labour is too ‘timid’ under Keir Starmer and must become more outspoken to show it can lead the rebuilding of the nation after Covid, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has warned.

The ex-health secretary, who has made no secret of his desire to replace Sir Keir, piled pressure on his rival in a BBC interview.

Opinion polls continue to show Labour languishing behind Boris Johnson‘s Tories despite a series of rows and controversies through the tale end of the lockdown.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Mr Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said ‘The country is crying out for somebody to step forward to say ”you know what, we can’t have this”.

‘We’ve become too timid sometimes and too nuanced in putting forward our policy. 

‘I think we’re going to have to get bolder in saying how Labour is the right party to rebuild post-pandemic.’

The ex-health secretary, who has made no secret of his desire to replace Sir Keir, piled pressure on his rival in a BBC interview.

Opinion polls continue to show Sir Keir's Labour languishing behind Boris Johnson's Tories despite a series of rows and controversies through the tale end of the lockdown.

Opinion polls continue to show Sir Keir’s Labour languishing behind Boris Johnson’s Tories despite a series of rows and controversies through the tale end of the lockdown.

Mr Burnham, who quit national politics after failing to beat Jeremy Corbyn to the party leadership in 2015, is seen as a frontrunner to replace Sir Keir if Labour under-performs at the next election.

In June some 69 per cent of the faithful quizzed for Sky News said they would prefer to have him in the top job.  

Mr Burnham piled the pressure on Sir Keir at the time, pledging allegiance to the party leader up to and including the next general election –  expected in 2023 – but refusing to rule out a tilt at his job afterwards.

In a pointedly timed interview with the New Statesman, the mayor said: ‘I ain’t going back any time soon. I get asked it relentlessly: would I ever go back? So the answer is, I would, but it’s not any time soon.

‘I’m supporting Keir – I want him to win the next general election, and I will do whatever I can to help him achieve that. 

Mr Burnham is not the first Labour figure to demand more boldness at the top.  A former adviser to Sir Keir also said the Labour leader must make a ‘bigger and bolder’ offer to voters if he is to have any chance of returning the party to power.  

Simon Fletcher, who served as an adviser to Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir before stepping down in May, has said many members of the public do not understand what the Labour Party stands for.  

In June Mr Fletcher said Sir Keir has ‘got to paint the whole thing in much more primary colours’ if he is to reverse his fortunes.

He said the leader had started well when he became leader in April 2020 but has since suffered from a ‘lack of definition’.   

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