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.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.