A number of leading political figures in Wigan have thrown their support behind Andy Burnham to become Greater Manchester’s first mayor.
The Leigh MP formally announced his intention to become Labour’s candidate in next year’s election in a speech yesterday.
He told a meeting in Salford that he believes “Westminster has failed the north” and that he is prepared to leave the Parliamentary front benches with the aim of helping to re-balance the country politically.
Labour party members whose registration pre-dates January 2015 and who pay more than the minimum £3 registration will now nominate which of a growing list of candidatures, they want to represent them in the election.
Two candidates who Mr Burnham must face will be interim mayor Tony Lloyd, who was selected ahead of Lord Peter Smith last year, and Bury South MP Ivan Lewis.
And Wigan Council Leader Lord Smith has today thrown his full support behind the Shadow Home Secretary.
He said: “Andy Burnham will offer Greater Manchester with a mayoral candidate with national prominence and top cabinet experience.
“He has the vision to take Greater Manchester and the North forward and the experience to effectively implement his strategy.
“With Andy as mayor I and the Wigan Labour have confidence that devolution will bring improvement to the lives of local people.”
Lord Smith’s sentiments were echoed by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy.
She said: “Andy would make a fantastic mayor for Greater Manchester but this selection contest isn’t about MPs, it’s about ordinary Labour Party members deciding who they want to put forward as their Labour Party candidate.
“The Devomanc process has been far too undemocratic so far and I am determined to ensure that members can hear from all the candidates and make up their own minds.
“We’re lucky to have three good candidates in the race and I’ll be proud to back whichever of them is selected as we fight for the chance to take on this important role.”
The borough’s other MP, Yvonne Fovargue who represents Makerfield, said: “Greater Manchester as a city region ranks with the great capitals of the world and it needs a genuine big-hitter who can build prosperity and drive the Manchester city region of the future.
“As a leading figure in the cabinet of the last Labour Government, Andy Burnham has demonstrated that he has the drive, passion and crucially the experience required to be Labour’s candidate and the first mayor of Greater Manchester.”