Andy Burnham addresses Labour party conference in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
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Andy Burnham is the man Labour needs to win back power in 2020

Andy Burnham knows that we don't win by imitating the Tories, but by being better than them, says Luciana Berger. 

The Labour leadership contest is now in full swing. And it’s clear that this is not just about selecting the next Leader of the Opposition.

We must select a Leader who can change our Party so that we can win in 2020 and change Britain.

We need a Leader who can convince voters that competence and compassion can go hand in hand.

We need to select someone whose voice will carry into every nation and region of our country.

After watching his performance on the Newsnight leadership debate last night, I am clear that Andy Burnham is that leader.

Andy gave strong, clear answers on his vision for our nation's future.

He showed he had the strength needed to meet the challenges facing Labour - such as how to rebuild trust on immigration and benefits. And on the deficit - he showed he was the only candidate who had a vision of how we grow a strong economy.

As a member of the Shadow Health Team, I have worked closely with Andy. I’ve seen first-hand his passion, intelligence and conviction which have made him such a brilliant Shadow Health Secretary. 

He brings these qualities to the leadership contest, and having joined Andy on visits across the country, I know that he can speak passionately and convincingly to the aspirations of everyone.

Last night we heard Andy's clear vision for the future of our Party. He knows that we have lost our emotional connection with millions of voters – those who turned to the SNP in Scotland, UKIP in our heartland seats and the Conservatives in Middle England. 

It's clear Andy has thought hard about what we need to do to win back trust, and is already reaching out of the ‘Westminster bubble’ to consult members and voters all over the country.

He knows that we won’t win in 2020 by imitating the Tories, but by being better than them. Not by turning our back on traditional Labour values, but by showing that we have the strength to make them a reality.

As we heard during the debate, Andy would lead a Labour Party that helps every person, every family and every business - whoever they are, wherever they come from - get on in life. That's a country I want to see.

Luciana Berger is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Energy & Climate Change.

Len McCluskey. Photo: Getty
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Unite leadership race: What Len McCluskey's victory means

His margin is smaller than expected, but you only need to win by one. 

Come at the king, best not miss. And they did miss, albeit by a smaller margin than many expected. Len McCluskey has defeated Gerard Coyne, his Corbynsceptic rival, by 59,067 votes to 53,544 to remain as Unite's general secretary. Ian Allinson, running to McCluskey’s left, did surprisingly well with 17,143 votes.

A couple of things to note. The turnout was low – just 12.2 per cent – brought down by, among other things, the need to cast a postal vote and the view of the McCluskey camp that the smaller the turnout, the more important the payroll vote would be. But more significant is that Unite has shed about half a million members, confirming that it is anachronistic to refer to it as “Britain’s largest trade union”. That is, for the moment, Unison, a public sector union. (Unison actually had a lightly larger general fund membership by the close of 2015 but this decisively confirms that trend.)

The shift attests to the bigger – and neglected – story about the labour movement: that it is getting smaller, older, and more concentrated in the public sector. That’s a far bigger problem for the Labour party and the labour movement than who leads Unite or the Labour party.

That aside, the small margin is a shock – as I wrote last month, Unite is quite well-run these days, so you’d make McCluskey the favourite even before factoring in the ability of the incumbent to make life easier for himself. Most in the trade union movement expected McCluskey to win and win well for precisely that reason. As one senior official from another union put it: “Jaguar workers are earning more because of Len. That’s what it’s about, really.”

So the small margin means that Coyne may be found a role at the TUC and gently eased out the door rather than removed hastily. (Though the TUc would be highly unlikely to accept that arrangement.)Ian Allison, however, will be less lucky. One McCluskey loyalist said that the leftist would be “hunted with dogs” – not only was Allison expected not to do well, allies of McCluskey believed that he had agreed to tone down his campaign. Instead Allison's success contributed to the close-run result. (Unite uses first past the post to decide its internal contests.)

What does it mean for the struggle for control within Labour? Well, as far as the finely-balanced national executive committee is concerned, Unite’s nominees are elected at annual conference so any changes would be a way off, in any case.

The result does however increase the chances that Jeremy Corbyn will be able to stay on after a defeat. Removing Corbyn would mean handing control back to Tom Watson, with whom McCluskey's relations are now at an all time low. “I think there’s a feeling of: you came for me, you bastard, now I’m coming for you,” a trade union official says. That means that the chances that Corbyn will be able to weather a defeat on 8 June – provided Labour retain close to what one figure dubbed the “magic number” of 200 seats – have now considerably increased.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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