Burnham is the leader who will make the changes working people need

IMG_4188Last week I and my fellow MEPs heard from the Labour leadership contenders at a hustings in Brussels.

The candidates are being put through their paces up and down the country to ensure that members, affiliates and supporters of Labour get the fullest opportunity to hear from, and question, those that would lead us into the 2020 General Election. After the shock of the last election result I welcome this chance to see who will be the best candidate to change our Party so we can win in 2020, and the best candidate to deliver changes to the country thereafter.

Having heard from the candidates at the hustings, I am backing Andy Burnham as the leader that can deliver these changes and take us into government in 2020.

After a decade of right wing Tory ideology from Downing Street we will need that change. As a representative of North West England in the European Parliament, I want a leader who will deliver a true economic strategy that will help people in the North West and the other regions and nations of the UK to get on in life.

As a former Regional Organiser for UNISON I want a leader who will protect the interests of its members.

And as an MEP I want a leader who will work to reform Europe in a way that helps working people in the UK, and then ensure we have a strong Labour campaign to stay in a reformed EU.

I am convinced Andy has the ideas and commitment to be that leader.

In the North West I have seen, as a Liverpool Councillor and now MEP, the difference well planned investment, European funding and a real plan for regeneration can make. I have also seen the consequences of ill thought out ideological decisions by the Tories, like the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies. As a member of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee, I know government can work with business to help foster the jobs and growth of tomorrow, and Andy shares this vision of a true industrial strategy for every part of our country.

Ensuring young people have the skills to play a part in the new economy is also vital, and I welcome Andy’s commitment to reinvigorating apprenticeships, with apprentices on high quality schemes offered the same support as students going to university. Young people who want to be part of the exciting industrial opportunities of the future will be given the same chance to get on as those who want an academic education.

As an MEP and trade unionist I have looked with concern at the calls of the Tory backbenches for “reform” of the EU that consists of stripping away workers’ rights. Their vision for a sweatshop little England off the coast of Europe is not the future I want for our country. So I was delighted when Andy wrote to the Prime Minister last week making clear that Labour under his leadership would not support an attack on our social rights as part of his negotiations. Instead Andy is calling for reforms to the EU that will help, not harm, working people. This includes an end to abuses of the right to post workers to different parts of the EU, abuses which hurt the underpaid migrant and the unemployed local worker equally.

Finally, I welcome Andy’s commitment to move power away from Westminster and return it to local communities. His pledge to lift the Treasury’s caps on local authority house building shows the change that a Labour Government under Andy would make, allowing local councils to meet the needs of their local communities.

I want a future for my region and for my country, in which there are high quality and well paid jobs, where young people from any area and background have opportunities to get the skills necessary to do these jobs, and where we are anchored in an EU that fosters these jobs and defends workers’ rights. Andy is the leader who will win for Labour in 2020 and secure this future.

You can support Andy by signing up here.

Read why I am supporting Angela Eagle for Deputy here.