The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has urged Labour leadership candidates to reach out to northern cities, saying he and Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram have “felt invisible”.
Votes have now opened in the contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy all in the running.
But Mr Burnham said he had been “underwhelmed” by the hopefuls after they all failed to reply to a letter he sent imploring them to “embrace devolution”.
“I wrote to all of the leadership candidates a couple of weeks ago with my colleague Steve Rotheram because we felt invisible to Labour Party in the last three years,” he told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer.
The politician went on: “We are Labour Mayors in big cities yet we don’t get invited to speak at annual conference, we don’t get talked up in the despatch box like Mr Street in Birmingham, like the Tories do, and we don’t have any nomination rights in this contest.
“The message that we were sending back to them is you need to embrace devolution and what we’re doing and that’s part of Labour’s road back and I haven’t had a reply from any of them at the moment.”
Mr Burnham said Labour had the potential to “put ourselves back more in touch with the public” but questioned whether any of the candidates had fully understood the reasons behind the party’s colossal general election loss last December.
“It feels at times as thought this contest has been dealing with very minority issues rather than actually getting to the heart of why that happened.”
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