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Labour leadership frontrunner Andy Burnham: stick with Tony Blair's legacy

By Sam Lister and Gavin Cordon

Published 17/06/2015

Andy Burnham is among the Labour leadership hopefuls
Andy Burnham is among the Labour leadership hopefuls

Labour should not attempt to move away from the legacy of Tony Blair, the party's leadership frontrunner Andy Burnham has said.

In the first of a series of televised showdowns with the three other candidates vying to take the party's top job, the shadow health secretary said the former prime minister "did a lot of things right" and had reached out to voters who wanted to "get on in life".

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall, who is the candidate most closely identified with the Blairite strand of the party, insisted she was "not Blairite, Brownite, Old Labour, New Labour".

"I want to be today's and tomorrow's Labour," she added.

Ms Kendall appeared to suggest that Mr Burnham and rival Yvette Cooper had "baggage" as a result of their links to Blair and Gordon Brown.

"I think we do need a fresh start and I don't have the baggage of the past," she said.

Veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn said his party had "lost our way" and become "cowed" by powerful vested interests as he set out his stall in the hustings staged by BBC2's Newsnight in Nuneaton - one of several target seats Labour failed to win in the general election.

Pressed on how the party should distance itself from the Blair era and move more to the left, Mr Burnham said: "I don't think we would want to do that because Tony was the prime minister that won three elections Labour.

"But, he didn't get everything right so we have to learn from the mistakes of that government.

"But, he did a lot of things right and he spoke to people's wishes to get on in life.

"We have to as a party want to be the party that helps everyone get on in life and that's where Labour has got to be going forward."

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