New Labour leadership was elitist, says Burnham

Andy Burnham attacked New Labour's "elitist" style of leadership yesterday as he attempted to win last-minute support and keep alive his bid to become the party's next leader.

During the first major hustings event for the candidates vying to succeed Gordon Brown, Mr Burnham went further than before in distancing himself from the "top-down" approach of Tony Blair and Mr Brown.

In a symbolic break with the New Labour years, both Mr Burnham and Ed Miliband suggested they would not have Lord Mandelson in their shadow cabinets. Mr Burnham said the power wielded by the peer "created the impression that the elite was running the country".

The former health secretary has yet to reach the 33 nominations from MPs needed to earn a place on the ballot paper. He has until tomorrow to find enough backers.

Speaking at the hustings hosted by the GMB union, he tried to persuade those who were undecided by promising to create a "Labour Party that involves everyone".

Leading candidates were also confronted with criticisms that they had little experience outside Westminster and were too similar to each other to offer a real choice. Mr Burnham, Ed Balls and David and Ed Miliband are all former special advisers with degrees from Oxford. John McDonnell, one of two left-wing figures in the race, earned loud applause from union members but scorn from the Tories after saying that he would like to go back in time to "assassinate" Margaret Thatcher. He later clarified that his comments were meant as a joke.

He had made the remark after being asked what single act would have best improved life in 1980s Britain. His reply was: "I was on the GLC that Mrs Thatcher abolished. I worked for the National Union of Mineworkers and we had the NUM strike. I think I'd assassinate Thatcher."

Mr Burnham signalled the end of Lord Mandelson's place at the heart of Labour should he win the leadership. "Peter did some great things," he said. "But we created the impression that the elite was running the country. We must have a Labour Party that involves everyone."

Ed Miliband, who is aiming to pick up many votes from union members with a pitch to the left of his brother, also said there would be no place for Lord Mandelson in his shadow Cabinet. While he said the peer had fought "like a tiger" to keep Labour in office, he added that members of his shadow team should be elected. "I think all of us believe in dignity in retirement," he said.

It was left to David Miliband to defend New Labour's achievements, telling the packed hall the party had to pick someone who was ready to be Prime Minister. "There are plenty of people who want to trash our record. We should not fall for the Tory claptrap that we left Britain broke and broken," he said.

Ed Balls was the only candidate who did not attend the event as he was due to appear in the Commons in his role as the shadow Education Secretary. Mr Balls, who has already earned sufficient nominations to appear on the leadership ballot paper, will address the GMB union conference today.

Diane Abbott, the only woman in the race, is struggling to raise enough support before Wednesday's deadline. She said she hoped her candidacy would make it easier for outsiders to run in the future. "My idea has always been 'go for it' and even if you don't get there, you will have made it easier for other people like you to come afterwards," she said.

Hustings performance

David Miliband (63 nominations)

Told a union audience he refused to back nationalisation, showing he is not prepared to abandon New Labour's past. Performance rating: 3/5



Ed Miliband (49 nominations)

Admitted Labour had been slow to come up with an industrial policy and continued to pitch to the left of his brother. Performance rating: 3/5



Ed Balls (33 nominations)

Not at the hustings and has upset some by talking tough on immigration. Performance rating: N/A



Andy Burnham (23 nominations)

Left an impression by promising to change "elitist" party structure and freeze out Lord Mandelson. Performance rating: 4/5



John McDonnell (10 nominations)

Will be remembered for his quip about assassinating Margaret Thatcher, but the comment will not help his credibility. Performance rating: 1/5



Diane Abbott (8 nominations)

Her "zero privatisation" message went down well, but failed to get 33 nominations. Performance rating: 2/5

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Inbound Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Inbound Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: IT Field Engineer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line IT Engineer

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent