Andy Burnham in Edinburgh: ‘I can be Labour leader’

Andy Burnham.  'Picture: Ian Rutherford
Andy Burnham. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Andy Burnham has claimed he can win the Labour leadership, citing internal polling which shows that voters are moving to him from Jeremy Corbyn.

On a visit to the Capital, the Shadow Health Secretary MP said there was “all to play for” in the contest which has seen Mr Corbyn emerge as the surprise frontrunner.

Phone canvassing carried out by the Burnham team suggests that the rise in Corbyn support has peaked and first preferences are now moving to other candidates.

Speaking in Morningside where he addressed party activists, Mr Burnham claimed to have been given hope by the increasing number of “undecideds”, which has gone from 16.4 per cent in July to 31.2 per cent in August.

The figures, seen by the Evening News, were based on samples of several thousand people, including 5995 people contacted in August.

“It’s all to play for,” said Mr Burnham, the MP for Leigh. “The coincidence of the Labour leadership election and the silly season in the media has not been a particularly helpful thing. People have jumped to conclusions that aren’t 
supported by the information that we’ve got.

“Around a third of voters are undecided. About half have not received their ballot papers so it’s all to play for.”

According to the data, Mr Corbyn was in the lead with 34.71 per cent of first preferences in July and Mr Burnham lagged behind on 31.01 per cent.

In August, however, Mr Burnham’s support had risen to 38.93 per cent of first preferences compared with 20.56 per cent for Mr Corbyn.

Although the figures suggest Mr Burnham is leading, members of his team believe that is slightly misleading because of the “inherent bias” in the data collected by his supporters.

They do, however, believe that Mr Corbyn’s support is falling.

Of the “undecideds”, 36 per cent are leaning towards Mr Burnham, 23 per cent to Mr Corbyn, 15 per cent to Liz Kendall and 25 per cent to Yvette Cooper, according to the latest canvassing.

Mr Burnham added: “I’m confident I’m the only person who can beat Jeremy Corbyn so I’m here in Scotland fighting for every vote and fighting for the Labour party as I want it to be going forward.”

On a tour of Scotland, which also took in Aberdeen and Glasgow, Mr Burnham said he would give Kezia Dugdale, the party’s leader north of the border, the power to be a strong opposition in Scotland.

However, he said policy on UK issues would be determined by the UK party.

On Trident, an issue to be debated by Scottish Labour at its conference in October, he said “all voices” would contribute to a wider debate.

But he stressed: “In the end, when you talk about reconciling differences, this has to be a decision for Labour at the UK level. That then would be policy.”

Burnham says nuclear weapons in Scotland is not for Scots to decide

Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham has warned that there is no room to avoid the subject of keeping nuclear weapons on the Clyde as Scottish Labour prepares to debate the renewal of Trident.

New Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has pledged to hold a debate on Trident at the party’s conference in October, amid a renewed split created by UK leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap the weapons and retrain the current nuclear workforce.

Her deputy Alex Rowley has said he does not believe the case had been made for renewal of the Clyde-based deterrent and called for a referendum to be held on the issue.

But Mr Burnham yesterday insisted that Trident is “the ultimate reserved matter”, and said that while the views of the Scottish party would be taken into account, the future of Trident must remain a UK matter.

The Merseyside MP also welcomed a suggestion he is “the modern day John Smith” as he spoke in the Edinburgh church where Smith’s funeral was.