Andy Burnham’s bid to be Labour’s candidate for Greater Manchester mayor…

I’m hoping Andy Burnham becomes Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming mayoral elections. He’s personable, and able, with more political experience at a high level than any other candidate. Plus when he was a young man he heard me DJ a number of times, and now he follows me on Twitter.

Having represented Leigh (in Greater Manchester) for fifteen years, he knows that the Mayor of Manchester’s task goes way beyond the 4* hotels and glitzy property developer schemes in city centre Manchester; I believe he genuinely understand the needs and aspirations of people throughout the North of England, and, particularly, the issues and the challenges faced by our local communities.

That he wasn’t born in the city, and that he supports Everton; neither of these things dissuade me. They certainly don’t diminish the value of his experience, nor his knowledge of Greater Manchester. If anything, they are a sign that helping to build a distinctly Northern Labour identity is something he’s well positioned to do.

Outside of slightly ludicrous and boring football rivalries, links to Liverpool are a help; in many areas of policy (eg transport) they’re essential, and in making a case against London-centric economic and social policies, Manchester needs to ally with our neighbours in Liverpool (and, indeed, across the Pennines). Better to have someone with a more-than-Manc perspective; we can’t afford (literally) to be parochial, and inward looking.

I am not sure Andy got all his NHS policy completely right in Government (although we only have to see the havoc wrought by Jeremy Hunt to realise how really bad it can get) but his experience in that area undoubtedly means he is an ideal person to steer us through whatever local NHS changes #Devomanc creates.

I recently got in touch with Andy to congratulate him on his amazing work in support of the Hillsborough campaigners seeking justice for the 96. He won over a sceptical campaign group and then opened doors and kept up the pressure. His work for Hillsborough campaign was very impressive; the way he took on establishment interests – the police, the judiciary, Westminster.

Personally, and from the perspective of the arts/culture world that I work in, I think there is a job to be done to build on Greater Manchester’s cultural and musical profile, to support our museums, galleries, libraries, and cultural institutions, to inspire wider engagement in the arts, and to energise wider grassroots cultural and artistic activity. I think Andy would get stuck into this.

I hope he becomes the Labour candidate. I reserve the right to vote for my friend Maxine Peake if she agrees to stand as mayor (I have asked her countless times!). But Andy is the strongest Labour candidate, and would be a sound choice for mayor.

I wish him the best of luck, and he gets half price discount if he ever needs a DJ.