UK Labour Party Should End ‘Civil War,’ Focus on Delivery: Manchester Mayor

May 10, 2021 Updated: May 10, 2021

The British Labour Party should move on from its ongoing “civil war” and focus instead on delivering results in local authorities under its control, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said on Monday.

“Labour needs to move on from the left and the right conducting this civil war within, focus on delivery now and making change happen, and celebrating Labour in power—because this is Labour in power, look at what we’re doing,” he said after winning reelection as mayor with 67.3 percent of the votes.

In last Thursday’s elections, Labour lost the seat for Hartlepool in the House of Commons and also lost control over eight local councils.

Left-wing MPs within the party blamed the “crushing defeat” on the leadership of Keir Starmer, who has sidelined the allies of the hard-left former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But Burnham stressed that the results were “mixed” and not “catastrophic.”

“I think we’ve got a mixed set of results here, rather than the early narrative that this was catastrophic—definitely not,” he said. “We’ve got 10 Labour mayors now across the country, that is a fantastic foundation for the Labour Party to build on and I believe we will, and that’s the opportunity before us.”

Burnham said he was looking forward to meeting Tracy Brabin, the new Labour mayor of West Yorkshire.

“We’re building out a cluster here across the M62 and there is so much potential there for us to work together, the three great city regions of Liverpool city region, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire,” he said.

The M62 is a 107-mile-long motorway in northern England, connecting Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

“This is a huge opportunity for us and today is a day to be really positive about what Labour can achieve in power,” Burnham said.

Burnham was responding to the criticism of Starmer’s leadership from allies of Corbyn.

Diane Abbott, who was shadow home secretary during Corbyn’s leadership, said there was a “problem with strategy.”

“What we want is a strategy for winning from this leadership, because it’s clear from what happened over the weekend, particularly what happened in Hartlepool, there’s a problem with the strategy,” she told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed that Labour needs to change as society is facing “seismic changes.” But he said Starmer should be given “the space and the power” he needs to respond to the challenges.

“He has got to be given the space and the power and the leaders working with him to change the Labour Party, so that it can deal with these fundamental challenges that have been aggravated by COVID,” he told “Today.”

PA contributed to this report.