Burnham: Ed vs David clash harms us all

Burnham: 'There is only so long that you can defy gravity'
Burnham: 'There is only so long that you can defy gravity'

By Ian Dunt

Ed and David Miliband are turning the leadership contest into a stereotypical race between old and New Labour, Andy Burnham has argued.

The shadow health secretary tried to wrestle his way back into the Labour leadership race today with an attack on both the brothers, saying David Miliband did not offer enough of a break with the past and that Ed Miliband was wrong to criticise some aspects of Tony Blair's leadership.

Defending his suggestion of a land value tax to replace stamp duty, Mr Burnham said those who wanted to persist with the New Labour model would oppose the proposal.

"David Miliband was wrong this week to warn that radical tax reforms of this kind are a retreat to a Labour comfort zone," he wrote in the Guardian.

"Instead, the comfort zone we risk slipping into is the New Labour comfort zone that says minimal change and more of the same is the way to go.

"We can no longer base our politics on the New Labour approach of trying the patience of Labour members on a daily basis. There is only so long that you can defy gravity and ask people to be relaxed about inequalities that made them Labour in the first place.

"Now, of all times, we must have the courage of our Labour convictions and set out a credible and principled alternative to the destructive path of the coalition."

But Mr Burnham was equally critical of the younger Miliband's approach, which involves a full-blown attack on many aspects of Blairism.

"We must keep other important New Labour changes too," he wrote.

"When Tony Blair pledged Labour would be tough on crime, he spoke for millions who live in areas where people lose their liberties through fear of crime. So I disagree with Ed Miliband when he says that New Labour got it wrong on law and order."

The reduction of the contest to a two-horse race between the Milibands risked simplifying the political arguments in a way that would damage the party, Mr Burnham argued.

"I am standing in this race as I don't believe either of the two frontrunners fully represent what I would call mainstream Labour," he said.

"As this race enters its final stage, the media are seeking to brand it as a two-horse race between New and old Labour.

"There are great risks for Labour here. First, it risks repeating old debilitating battles in our party. Second, it leaves mainstream Labour opinion unrepresented."

Mr Burnham, who has tried to make his modest working class background an asset in the leadership contest, is struggling to secure a prominent place in the race as it enters its final stages.


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