Giving a victory speech following the declaration that he had won a second term, the two-times failed Labour leadership candidate appeared to lay out his platform for another run for the top job down the line. Pressure has mounted on Sir Keir Starmer’s position after a series of damning election defeats across the country in votes held on Thursday.
Mr Burnham appeared to criticise Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer and demanded political parties start to take devolution seriously in a passionate speech following his re-election.
He said: “I will continue to be a voice for all people and all communities. I will continue to adopt a place-first, not party-first approach.
“This vote sends a clear message to all Westminster parties. People are buying in to English devolution.
“They are telling you to deliver more of it, not less of it. They like us having the ability to do more for ourselves.
“They can see how it is making politics work better for them and that is reflected in the council results across Greater Manchester. They value the stronger voice it has given to the north of England.
“Don’t give us devolution and be surprised if we answer you back, particularly if you do things here you would never do in London.”
Asked by reporters afterwards if he would consider running for the party leadership again in the future, he said: “I left Westminster politics, I’m not an MP – you have to be an MP to stand for the leader of the Labour Party and I’m not aware the rules have changed.
“So no, my focus is here. In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch.”
“Seeing everything through the lens of Westminster is the problem and I don’t. I think we’re building the answer here.
“Labour’s answer is to be found right here in Greater Manchester and I’m building it, so I’m helping them already,” he added.
“I wouldn’t say never,” he said.
Mr Burnham is now the most senior and successful elected Labour Party politician outside the parliamentary leadership of the party.
As Mayor of Greater Manchester he has built his own successful brand, being declared “King of the North” during last summer’s high-profile spat with Boris Johnson over pandemic funding for the region.
Mr Burnham’s re-election is a rare victory for Labour which has suffered a battering across England over the past 48 hours.
The Labour Party lost the Hartlepool Westminster by-election to the Conservatives, with the town electing a Tory for the first time in more than 50 years.
Scores of council seats have also been lost by the party throughout the country.
Critics of Sir Keir have put him on notice they could challenge his leadership unless he turns around the party’s fortunes.
Last night the Labour leader pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to rebuild trust in the party.
“I’m bitterly disappointed in the result and I take full responsibility for the results – and I will take full responsibility for fixing this,” he said.
“We have changed as a party but we haven’t set out a strong enough case to the country.
“Very often we have been talking to ourselves instead of to the country and we have lost the trust of working people, particularly in places like Hartlepool.
“I intend to do whatever is necessary to fix that.”
Published at Sat, 08 May 2021 15:47:00 +0000