Contenders clash at hustings

Andy Burnham MP
Andy Burnham MP

BOROUGH MP and Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham has emphasised the need to “shift power away from Westminster.”

Speaking at a party hustings event in Manchester yesterday, the MP for Leigh also pledged flexibility for local governments to build more homes.

He said: “If we are going to invest in the homes we need – and the transport and infrastructure we need to grow – we need a massive shift of power away from Westminster and towards councils, cities and communities.”

Adding: “We haven’t had a proper housing policy for quite some time. I would give councils borrowing power for housebuilding and compulsory purchase order powers over bad landlords.”

Mr Burnham and rival Yvette Cooper have had to fend off claims they are “continuity Miliband.”

Liz Kendall, who has levelled the accusations, told a national newspaper: “I think I am the only person in this race that isn’t continuity Miliband. The other candidates haven’t spelled out how they would be any different from Ed Miliband.

“If we stick with what we have been saying for the last five or eight years, we will have the same result. Shifting our position a little bit on being more pro-business isn’t going to cut it.

“We have got to get back to the values of the British people – work, responsibility, wanting to get on, wanting to be a success, and being proud of that – not making people ashamed or think somehow that they are doing something wrong.”

The Manchester hustings, which is the latest in a series of events planned before the ballot period in August and September - was organised by the Unison trade union.

Yvette Cooper pledged to hold George Osborne to account, stating: “The Spending Review should make clear which spending lines are no longer being controlled at the centre and are automatically being devolved to those areas that already have the right governance structures in place.”

Outsider Jeremy Corbyn said the party should stand up for a welfare system that provides “equality of opportunity.”

Mr Burnham added he hopes to re-establish a connection with sections of society that have lost their connection with the party.

He said: “I will have a front bench full if diversity and accents, take us out of the Westminster bubble. I’ll give this party its pride back, I will create a Labour vision for the 21st century.”