Andy Burnham calls for ‘maximum devolution’ for Wales if Labour win the next General Election
Andy Burnham has called for “maximum devolution” for Wales if Labour win the next General Election.
At a fringe event on the opening day of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, the Greater Manchester mayor said the party is “odds on now to be the next government” within a year to two.
He said that Labour should “put maximum devolution out to Wales, at national level, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but beneath that you devolve down as well”.
It was part of a plan to “rewire” Britain and bring in “massive” political reforms, such as a proportional electoral system and a “senate of the nations and regions” to replace the House of Lords.
Mr Burnham praised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for putting himself in a position where “he can lead us to victory”, but insisted the party needs to go “that step further”.
“I don’t think Labour’s oppositions traditionally have won by default.
“I think Labour oppositions have won when they have gone that extra thing and then connected with the country with regard to the policies that they would bring in.
“And the Government have left us a massive amount of space here”, he told the fringe event.
On whether he would support reforming the voting system, Mr Burnham said “yes” as it is “just the right thing to do” and indicated he would go even further, replacing the House of Lords with a body representing the region and “maximum devolution”.
He described Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget last week as the “most graphic demonstration you could possibly imagine of how our current political system can be manipulated in the best interest of a tiny, tiny minority of people”.
He went on: “For me, if you are to get more regional equality, and just more fairness, if you are to get more durable social reform, I think you’ve got to rewire Britain completely.
“And to me that means a proportional system for the Commons, you abolish the elected Lords and replace it with an elected senate of the nations and regions, so every part of this country has an equal voice in Parliament, which it doesn’t currently have.
“And then you put maximum devolution out to Wales, at national level, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but beneath that you devolve down as well.”
‘Not ruling it out’
During the event, which lasted for around an hour, Mr Burnham also said nationalising railways is “a no brainer”, as “public control of essentials means you can make those essentials more affordable for people who need them to be affordable”.
He suggested the party should propose rolling out nationally the £2 cap on bus fares and called for “radical” housing policies.
He went on: “I would like to see safe, affordable, decent housing as a human right in UK law and then a massive expansion of building social housing. Zero carbon.”
Mr Burnham was also asked whether he would seek selection for the West Lancashire by-election.
He reiterated his promise to serve a full second term as Greater Manchester mayor to 2024 but did not rule out a return to Westminster.
He said: “You know, one day I can see that I may go back, but it’s obviously… I don’t know if the circumstances were right. So, I’m definitely not ruling it out. But I honestly do love what I’m doing.”
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