Right, first off, the Telegraph story referred to in the headline: a Rosa Prince smear-a-thon which shows up Burnham’s claim to understand life outside of the Westminster village by revealing that the private sector experience Andy had previously talked up involved a marketing business that was run by his wife – not himself at all. That traded for three years before dissolving.
Let’s examine what Burnham actually said about it; what led to the Telegraph story being run in the first place. This was his response on Sky News when challenged about his lack of experience in the “real world”:
“Well, I worked in the private sector when I left university, albeit not for long but I did. My wife has run her own business in the past so I have experience of working in the private sector.”
This was a silly thing for Burnham to have said. A piece like the one yesterday in the Telegraph became inevitable as a direct result of him saying this on Sky. And that points to why Andy would be a poor Labour leader once again.
I know, I know, I’m always giving Andy Burnham a hard time. It’s not personal animosity on my part, I promise. I’m sure he’s probably a good bloke, with his heart in the right place. But he seems to be given over to making unforced errors a lot of the time.
Yes, if he was leader he’d theoretically have a better coterie of advisers available and he’d also grow into the role and as a result of both of those factors, make fewer gaffes. Only this line of reasoning sounds a lot like what was said about Ed Miliband when he became leader in 2010. Yet there we were in September 2014, and his last speech as commander and chief started with twenty minutes of pointless anecdotes about posh people he’d run into on various occasions in Primrose Hill. Or the never to be forgotten “Yorkshire moment”, when asked on the Question Time leaders special if the last Labour government had overspent. In summary, good judgement tends to be something you have or do not have. Everyone goes on and on about Liz Kendall’s lack of experience and yet she was not the one who said “the party always comes first” was she?
Liz would also be given a small (very small) grace period given her lack of experience on the frontbenches. Corbyn couldn’t possibly screw up since he just tells it like it is – everything Jeremy would say as leader that would cause people to groan would be intentional on his part. Cooper would be bland, but much more in control. Burnham on the other hand seems to be handing various sticks with which Cameron can beat him with prior to even being elected leader. I don’t think it would get better if he got the top job – history tells us it would probably get worse. Just ask Gareth next time you’re on Hampstead Heath.