South Yorkshire MP says Andy Burnham can beat ‘wretched Tories’

Michael Dugher
Michael Dugher

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher has backed Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham as the man to beat the ‘wretched Tories’ at the next election.

In an article for the Daily Mirror, Mr Dugher said Labour needs to face up to voters having a ‘lack of trust’ in the party over issues such as immigration and the economy.

He also said the point Ed Miliband refused to say Labour had spent too much when it was last in power on Question Time was ‘the moment the election was lost’.

Mr Dugher said: “This just reinforced the doubts people had that Labour hadn’t really changed and we still couldn’t be trusted with the nation’s finances.

“Andy Burnham rightly says we should be proud of many of the things Labour did in government, like building new schools and hospitals.

“But he also said, right at the start of his Labour leadership campaign, that whilst Labour spending didn’t cause the global financial crash, Britain would have been better prepared for it if we had reduced the deficit during the boom years.

“This is important because Labour will not be able to win back trust on the economy in the future if people still think we’re in denial about our past.

“If we are straight about the things we didn’t get right, it will make us more credible in arguing for all the things we did.”

Mr Dugher added Mr Miliband deserved credit for addressing immigration issues but said the party’s message had ended up being ‘reticent, equivocal and confusing’.

He said: “Andy Burnham was right when he said that Cameron should use renegotiations with the European Union to tighten rules on EU migrants claiming benefits after entering the country. Freedom to work, yes. Freedom to claim benefits, no thanks.

“These might be hard truths for some, but they are a part of why it’s Andy Burnham, more than any other candidate, who polls show can win back support and beat the Conservatives.

“But Labour will only get rid of these wretched Tories if we show that we’re prepared to face up to difficult issues like our lack of trust on the economy and immigration - and win the argument for Labour values and Labour solutions.

“That’s how we’ll win in 2020. But at the moment, it looks like only Andy Burnham is prepared to do that.”