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Andy Burnham accused of being a 'tourist' to the North as mayoral bid attacked

Published 20/05/2016

Andy Burnham, after speaking at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester
Andy Burnham, after speaking at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester

Andy Burnham's Greater Manchester mayoral bid has been attacked by broadcaster Terry Christian, who accused the ex-cabinet minister of being a "tourist" to the north of England.

The Liverpool-born politician, who has been the MP for Leigh since 2001, launched his campaign for the new directly-elected role promising to rebalance the "London-centric" UK.

But Mancunian Mr Christian was among those to mock his assertion that youngsters growing up in the North feared being ridiculed if they said they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or an MP.

"I do feel a bit sorry for him because it's almost like he's a tourist in the North nowadays, the way he talks about the North," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"He said nobody in the North would say they wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor.

"It's a bit like he wants to be King of the North now, without getting all Game of Thrones on you.

"He doesn't want to be warming the bench for Jeremy Corbyn any more so he wants to come up here. I just think it's a bit cynical."

He denied he was among those who were opposed to his bid because of the fierce rivalry between the city and Liverpool.

"It's nothing to do with him coming from Merseyside. It's just this idea that if you lack the charisma to win the Labour Party leadership from someone like Jeremy Corbyn, then we are in trouble.

"Manchester deserves someone with a bit more oomph about them."

The ex-Celebrity Big Brother contestant joked: "He does come from the North and he understands painful life in the North too, but that's probably because he's an Everton fan.

"God bless him. He's a lovely bloke but he was cultural secretary - sport, media and all the rest of it - and he didn't do much in that one year in power."

Mr Burnham faces opposition for the Labour nomination for the 2017 contest from interim mayor Tony Lloyd and former minister Ivan Lewis.

At his campaign launch he said England needs to "rebalance the cultural, media and financial power of the country" because Westminster had "failed" the North - and the problem was getting worse.

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