Burnham, Andy



Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was born in Culcheth, Cheshire.  His father was a telephone engineer father and his mother a receptionist. Burnham frequently references his working-class upbringing.

Having been ‘radicalised‘ by the miners’ strike, Burnham joined the Labour Party at 14 and he began his working-life as a researcher to Labour Party politicians.

Upon becoming a Labour MP in 2001, Mr Burnham took on junior Government roles and soon rose up the ranks. By the time Gordon Brown became PM, Burnham was Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2007-2008).  He then became Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (2008-2009) and, finally, Secretary of Health (2009-2010).

Following two failed runs for the Labour Leadership in 2010 and 2015, Burnham became shadow Home Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn before resigning in 2016 to run for Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Burnham first won election as Greater Manchester Mayor in 2017, a position through which he has increased his national political status significantly.   He was re-elected in 2021 securing 67.3% of the vote.


Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham – Self styled King of the North

King of the North

Following the 2019 election, greater attention was paid to the communities of Northern England who had placed their trust in the Conservative party – often for the first time. With this new framing of politics in the north, the country was soon engulfed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus pandemic – particularly following the introduction of the regional tiers system – had the unexpected effect of boosting the name-recognition of those politicians representing different parts of the UK, and highlighted the role of metro mayors. All of sudden, local leaders like Burnham became more important national figures.

Following the announcement that Manchester was to be moved into ‘Tier 3’ (then the highest tier) in October 2020, Burnham led negotiations for further funding for the region. Burnham insisted that new tier 3 restrictions to control the virus must come with significant financial packages for regional governments. Burnham requested £65 million for his region, albeit the Prime Minister was only willing to offer £60 million. Burnham was outraged.

The mayor led a subsequent press-conference giving his version of events as to why talks collapse. Mid-press-conference, Burnham was shown an email detailing that-after all the negotiations – only £22 million was to be allocated to his region. Going off-script, Burnham called the move ‘brutal’ and ‘frankly disgraceful’.

Since first becoming Manchester Mayor in 2017, Burnham has donated 15% of his annual £110,000 salary to tackling homelessness.

Speeding conviction

In March 2023, Andy Burnham was fined for speeding after admitting driving at 78 mph on a stretch of the M62 Motorway at a time that there was a 40 mph speed limit in operation.

Mr Burnham was fined some £2,000 by the court and given 6 penalty points.

Future Labour Leader?

Following his convincing election victory in the Manchester mayoral elections in May 2021, and against the background of continuing struggles by the Labour Party in the North and Midlands, Andy Burnham became the bookmaker’s favourite to become the next Labour leader.

Under the Labour Party’s rules, a candidate for the party leadership needs to be a Member of Parliament, which is clearly currently a barrier for Mr Burnham.

Nevertheless, and despite having twice stood unsuccessfully for the party leadership, in May 2021 Mr Burnham suggested he was still very much interested in the possibility, suggestively commenting that the Labour Party should “get in touch” if it were “ever to feel it needed me”.

Bookmakers seem to have heard Mr Burnham’s statements, and despite him not being an MP, regularly place him as the favourite to succeed Sir Keir Starmer.

Political Views

In his unsuccessful 2010 bid for the Labour leadership, Burnham emphasised his philosophy of ‘aspirational socialism‘, which he described as redistributive and internationalist.

In the 2015 leadership election, in a move that appeared to misread the Labour Party’s mood, Burnham launched his campaign in front of an audience of accountants at Ernst & Young. In his speech, Burnham stressed that the entrepreneur should be ‘as much our hero as the nurse‘.

During the campaign, Burnham was subsequently accused of pivoting to the left in order gain votes from Jeremy Corbyn. Burnham came out in favour of renationalising the railway system. Burnham was never overly comfortable with Corbyn’s politics; he is very much on the soft-left of the Labour Party.

Burnham was opposed to the idea of a mansion tax, saying his mother had persuaded him to turn against it. He is however, in favour of a higher minimum wage; the banning of zero-hours contracts; and in his role as Greater Manchester Mayor, Burnham has argued in favour of further devolution.

Burnham is associated with plans for a ‘death tax’, in the form of an increase in inheritance tax in order to pay for social care.

Things you may not know about Andy Burnham

How old is Andy Burnham?

Andrew Murray Burnham was born on the 7th January 1970 in Aintree, Liverpool.

What did Andy Burnham do before entering Politics?
Before becoming a Labour MP, Burnham worked as a researcher for Tessa Jowell MP.  He also had jobs with the NHS Confederation and the Football Task Force.  As something of a “professional politician”, he has  worked in and around politics through the course of his adult life.

Is Andy Burnham Married?
Mayor Burnham met his future wife, Marie-France van Heel, at Cambridge University. They tied the knot in 2000. Van Heel has been CEO of the London-based firm Heavenly, which is said to have designed logos for HSBC, England Rugby and the BBC. She reportedly appeared on ‘Blind Date’ while she and Burnham were still courting.

Andy Burnham and Football
Burnham is a big Everton fan. Former Everton Goalkeeper, Neville Southall supported his bid for the Labour leadership in 2015, writing to Burnham on Twitter: ‘You are the best man for the job.  Top blue and top guy’.

Suggesting that he is capable of bridging the footballing divide in Liverpool, Jamie Carragher the former Liverpool defender and now Sky football pundit, reportedly donated £10,000 to Burnham’s 2010 Labour Leadership campaign.

Burnham has dabbled in football himself and played as a striker in Labour’s Demon Eyes football team. People have suggested that Burnham can be a little bit of a goal hanger

Early Political Career

Having entered Parliament representing the North West constituency of Leigh at the 2001 General Election, Burnham became a member of the Parliamentary Health Select Committee, a position he held until 2003. Burnham then served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Home Secretary Liam Blunkett (2003-2004) and then Education Secretary Ruth Kelly (2004-2005).

Burnham first entered government as junior Minister at the Home Office and quickly climbed the Ministerial ladder. When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Burnham was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2007-2008) and then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (2008-2009). In 2009, Burnham was promoted to Health Secretary – a position which he held until the 2010 General Election. This raised Burnham’s political profile, but he struggled to stand out against the Milibands and Ed Balls in the subsequent Labour Party leadership election.

Having finished in fourth place during the 2010 leadership election, above only Diane Abbot, Burnham stood again for the party leadership in 2015. This time Burnham managed a slightly better finish, coming in second. However his mere 19% of the vote was eclipsed by Jeremy Corbyn’s 60%.

Further Information

Twitter Handle – @AndyBurnhamGM

Facebook Address – @BurnhamGM

Personal Website – https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/the-mayor/


Andy Burnham to pitch himself as Starmer’s successor