Yesterday, The Observer ran an interview with Burnham which beautifully illustrated everything I’ve been saying about the impending disaster of his leadership of the Labour Party. There’s lots to talk about here, so let’s begin.
We’ll start with the headline, which often times in a newspaper article is a little unfair on the interviewee since they have a tendency to be either an exaggeration of something said or a misquote. However, in this instance, it appears to be directly from Burnham’s own mouth.
“I was loyal to Tony Blair, loyal to Gordon Brown, and loyal to Ed Miliband. I have never been into factional politics.”
Wow, where do you start? From an outsider’s perspective, it’s difficult to see how Burnham declaring his loyalty towards past Labour leaders, amongst them some of the most unpopular men in the country, is a great advert for his own brand of leadership. If he thought all those guys, with their very different ideological stances, were hunky dory, what would Andy Burnham’s tenure as leader actually look like? From The Observer article I got little idea, other than that he seems to want to keep absolutely everyone in the party happy no matter what. Which was ultimately Ed Miliband’s big mistake.
In fact the one thing Burnham talked about in the interview that was in anyway bold was that he wanted Labour to act as a kind of attack dog in regards to David Cameron’s EU renegotiation. Not to keep him honest but – and I swear I’m not making this up – to ensure that the renegotiation is sufficiently right wing. Burnham wants to make sure the crack down on benefits is sufficiently robust and hinted he may not back Stay In if it was too leftie.
People point to old stalwarts like Charlie Falconer and Dugher swinging behind Burnham as proof that the man who came fourth in 2010 has more going for him than you might think. However, I see the opposite. I see a bunch of the saner heads available refusing to absorb the full impact of the general election loss, retreating – as in 2010 – back into a comfort zone, one in which the Labour Party can win a stonking majority by doing nothing more than talking over and over again about how the NHS has (insert random number here) days/weeks/months to live.
Dan Hodges recently made a joke in his column about how if you thought Miliband’s 35% strategy was a bad idea, wait until you get hold of Burnham’s 12% strategy. It will be a disaster for the Labour Party; I can only hope it won’t be a disaster for the country as a whole.