“Stop playing us off against each other,” said the London Labor Party figures to Andy Burnham
Workers’ representatives today called on Andy Burnham to reduce his comments on London and the South, accusing him of “playing regions off against each other”.
Greater Manchester Mayor has been accused of using “anti-London rhetoric” in defending the North.
It comes after the government was beaten up by both Labor and Tory MPs for watering down rail upgrades for the north when they scrapped the eastern portion of HS2 to Leeds.
Northern leaders are angry and say they want the same deal as London on transport infrastructure and tariffs.
While Burnham’s Labor colleagues are unanimously in favor of more support for the North, some are not happy that he is making comparisons with London. The capital is dominated by Labor MPs and has a Labor Mayor – who warned this week that Transport for London is about to face major cuts.
Their discomfort reached new heights when Burnham tweeted, “No expense has been spared for the South. No more money for the north. This is not “leveling up”. It’s the same old story. “
When someone suggested limiting their tweet to the “southeast” because regions in the southwest are “constantly forgotten”, they replied, “Fair Point, as is the northeast up here.”
Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey Old Southwark, accused Burnham last month of “cheap digging” in London on rail prices. Burnham told him it was no hit in London to ask that “people here get some of the good things that London has to offer”.
Coyle told HuffPost UK that he had raised the issue both publicly and privately with Burnham, adding, “Londoners work longer, have higher rents and we are severely disadvantaged even in inner London communities like my own. For example, parts of Southwark have 40 percent child poverty. “
Leonie Cooper, a Labor member of the London Assembly, said it was a mistake to see the capital as “anything like Belgravia or Knightsbridge”, adding: “A lot of people in London are really fighting – London’s tables are becoming more and more numerous and are already asking for seasonal gifts so that children don’t miss out on them.
“It is a shame that the leaders of the north sometimes gloss over it and pretend all the streets of London are paved with gold. And if London does well, it will help the rest of the country – London’s black taxis are being built near Coventry, London’s red buses are being built in Northern Ireland. Londoners want the north to be successful – but we also support London. “
South London Labor Councilor Richard Livingstone added, “I think the north should get infrastructure funding, but I think playing regions against each other is not helpful – and almost certainly counterproductive.”
London Labor disability officer Patrick Moule said it was “disappointing” that Burnham made these comments given that there was “near universal support” for infrastructure funding in the north, adding: “They have been starving for it for decades. “
But he added, “I don’t see why Burnham has to go south when he pleads for the north – it is doing Labor no favors at all.”
Tony McNulty, a former Labor MP and minister for London, accused Burnham of “beggar-my-neighbor politics” when they were supposed to be working together. McNulty said such “anti-London rhetoric” only helped the Tories.
But Burnham hit back, saying it was “rubbish” and calling on the South to show “a little solidarity”. He added: “It is time for all Labor figures to seriously win back the North.”
A Greater Manchester source told HuffPost UK: “Comparing what London has to what we have is not London bashing.
“On the day the north is beaten by the government on the railroad, there is a legitimate sense of privilege to bring up the subject of London bashing.”
But while northern traffic dominated the House of Commons on Thursday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that huge cuts are pending on subways, buses and bicycle programs.
In the FT, he wrote: “Ministers say they want other regions to have London-style transport services – but since they are not allocating enough funds, it won’t be long before the capital itself runs out of London-style transport services . Instead, TfL could become the epitome of controlled decline. “
And most of the London Labor MPs posted on Twitter about TfL funding.
Some resent being played off against another region when the government is “guilty”.
They highlighted the impact of the pandemic on London, the capital’s main contribution to the economy and that as a region it has the highest poverty rates in England.
It is * more expensive * to have a season ticket from Croydon to London than from Chorley to Manchester. These cheap digs in London are inaccurate and must come to an end, not least for anyone interested in Labor doing well or anyone interested in the facts. https://t.co/LKGp929dnw
– Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) October 21, 2021
Separately, Burnham’s colleague Lucy Powell, Labor MP for Manchester Central, tweeted that “major projects” like Crossrail in London were never downgraded, instead claiming that money was “thrown at them.”
John McTernan, who served as political secretary to former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, replied: “London was a slum system until the King’s Cross fire. This is not a zero-sum game either. And what exactly is the benefit of attacking a Labor Party heartland? The politics of impotent anger and division belongs to the populist right. “
A source close to Powell said, “It’s not about pitting one area against another, as Lucy’s tweets make clear, but the facts speak for themselves.
“If the north had had the same spending on transport infrastructure as London and the south-east over the past ten years, it would have had £ 66 billion more.
“These deep inequalities and the resulting services should worry Labor colleagues in the south as much as they do in the north.”
Burnham wrote in his Evening Standard column earlier this year, “Okay, I’ll admit it. I love london I know that you may not always have got that impression from my public statements. But to be honest, I do. “