Labour should have a woman leader 'when the time is right' says Andy Burnham

The Labour leadership candidate seemed unsure

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Indy Politics

Andy Burnham has been accused of sexism after saying that Labour should have a woman leader "when the time is right".

Asked whether it would be "great" for the party to have a female leader, Mr Burnham replied: “When the time is right. When the right candidate comes forward – it could be now, it could be in the future, who knows,” he responded when asked.

Mr Burnham, who is facing two women in the contest to replace Ed Miliband as leader of his party, made the comments during a hustings event on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday morning.

As Ms Cooper and Ms Kendall heckle him  “when will that be?” and “say yes, Andy” during Mr Burnham’s answer.

Two of the four leadership contenders, Liz Kendall, and Yvette Cooper, are women. The other two MPs running are Mr Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn.

Helen Goodman, a Labour MP who supporters Ms Cooper's campaign, told the Evening Standard newspaper that “Andy must be a) out of touch, b) very tired or else c) very sexist. To be fair, I think on balance it is either a or b.”


Last month, Mr Burnham was forced to defend accusations levelled against his campaign by Ms Cooper when it was suggested that he might become the "Anyone but Corbyn" candidate.

"Andy’s campaign seem to be calling for Liz and I to bow out and leave it to the boys, or suggesting that somehow women aren’t strong enough to do the top jobs," she said at the time.

The Labour party has never had a woman leader, though its current interim leader is Harriet Harman.

According to polls Mr Burnham and Mr Corbyn both rank ahead of Ms Kendall and Ms Cooper, at least on first-preference votes.

Ms Cooper may be broadly level with Mr Burnham once second preferences are re-allocated, however.

Voting in the Labour leadership contest is currently underway, with the result set to be announced at a special conference in September.