Andy Burnham echoes early Tony Blair as he launches Manchester mayor bid

Written by David Singleton on 19 May 2016 in Diary

He also suggested it is difficult to grow up in the north if you have ambitions for a career in medicine, law or politics.

Labour heavyweight Andy Burnham has launched his bid to be mayor of Manchester with a declaration that the city can be “a beacon of social justice”.

In a speech at the Lowry in Salford, Burnham appeared to borrow from Tony Blair’s 1997 Labour conference speech, when the then prime minister spoke of turning Britain into “a beacon to the world”.

Burnham also raised eyebrows today as he spoke of the challenges of growing up in the north of England. He said: "It’s harder sometimes, growing up in the north-west of England, isn’t it? Because you say to someone: ‘Oh, I’d like to be a doctor.’ Or be a lawyer or a member of parliament. And you worry you’ll have the mickey taken out of you straight away.”

And he vowed to "put the swagger back into the Manchester music scene" as the "mayor for Manchester music".

Burnham had been hoping to announce his candidacy to the world on Thursday, but his team inadvertently spilled the beans by changing the Twitter handle he used during last year’s bid to be leader of the party, from @andy4leader to @andy4manchester. The profile’s biographical sentence read: “The official account of Andy Burnham’s campaign to be Labour’s candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester.”

In his launch speech, Burnham stated: “Greater Manchester can be even greater than it is today. A major European economic and creative centre - unashamedly entrepreneurial and endlessly innovative - but at the same time, and here’s the crucial part, a beacon of social justice in this country and to Europe and the World.

“That is a vision which I think captures the essence of Manchester. It is full of people who want to get on but who also want to give back. This is a vision that would make us unique and set us apart. It is one people could buy into. Yes, let’s help people to succeed. But let’s never forget our roots and those coming after us.”

In his first speech to a Labour conference since sweeping to power in 1997, Blair lavishly praised the British character and used the word beacon 14 times.

He stated: “Today I want to set an ambitious course for this country. To be nothing less than the model 21st century nation, a beacon to the world.”





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