The ethnic groups represent 14% of the Greater Manchester population but only 1.5% of ethnic minorities are in managerial or director positions. They are discriminated at all levels for jobs, housing and promotions. After Brexit the racial abuse has increased manifold…writes Dr Kailash Chand
Andy Burnham has launched his campaign, at HOME in central Manchester, to become mayor of Greater Manchester. He vows to “smash” London and the South’s hold on power in the UK by setting out a positive, optimistic and innovative future not just for Manchester, but for the north of England as a whole.
There is a lesson to learn from Donald Trump’s victory in America. The similar patterns are visible in other places too. There has been a political elite which has clearly forgotten about the people it represents. The old politics isn’t just broken, it’s shattered. It’s lying in pieces.
Andy’s inspirational speech in front of local leaders and journalists encompassed a wide range of domestic themes, including, young people, BAME and the Manchester devolution. He promised to tackle the ‘London-centric approach to life’, insisting Westminster had ‘failed’ Greater Manchester.
In addition to the City of Manchester, the new Mayor’s writ extends to nine other local authorities: Stockport, Trafford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Wigan, Oldham, Salford and Tameside. There is an appetite among people elsewhere in the region to avoid the new Mayor being too Manchester-focused. Burnham believes he is the right man for the job.
He told the audience: “Westminster has failed the north. It has left us with an uneven share of resources, power and life chances. The London perspective on life dominates the political debate and does not do justice to the challenges that people face in greater Manchester. The Mayor of Greater Manchester is a Cabinet-level job that requires Cabinet-level experience. If done right, it can make a real difference. I believe I have got what it takes to make a success of it. But I’ve also got a passion for this place and its people and, most importantly, a vision for what it can be in the future.”
His message was loud and clear that, Greater Manchester can be even greater than it is today. A major European economic and creative centre – unashamedly entrepreneurial and endlessly innovative – but at the same time a beacon of social justice in this country and to Europe and the World.
He explained that Greater Manchester can stand out as a beacon of social justice–in terms of how it cared for older and vulnerable people.
As Mayor, Burnham would, he said, make it his mission to build here the country’s first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service – working to bring social care into the public sector and the NHS; taking Nye Bevan’s great vision from the last century and updating it for this.
Andy said: “I am clear about why I want to do this job. But I am also clear that I am not going to achieve any of this alone. I want to bring the Greater Manchester family together and work with our outstanding talent in greater Manchester to deliver this vision. I want to push power down to our councilors and their own communities, so that they are empowered to challenge the inequalities that scar our own City-region as well as the country as a whole. Let Greater Manchester lead the campaign for a more equal England.”
I reminded him that BAME groups represent 14% of the greater Manchester population but only 1.5% of ethnic minorities are in managerial or director positions. They are discriminated at all levels for jobs, housing and promotions. After Brexit the racial abuse has increased manifold.He promised to address the long standing ethnic grievances in Greater Manchester. He said, “I want to promote climate of hope, not hate”.
Personally, I think Burnham is right to try his hand at becoming the lead man in the “northern powerhouse” project, which is so important for Britain’s devolved future.
I have know and worked with Andy Burnham for the past 15 years. He stood up for patients and practitioners alike since he joined active politics. Andy has championed our cause every step of the way. From the moment Andrew Lansley introduced his plans to drastically change the health service we know and love, Andy has passionately defended our public NHS, free at the point of use.
As Health Secretary, Andy put people before profits by making the NHS the preferred provider, and in Opposition he vowed to repeal the Health and Social Care Act. In the time I have known and worked with him, Andy has demonstrated the courage and commitment needed to defend and save our NHS.
Andy’s vision to create a truly 21st century integrated NHS is one that I passionately support. He been a brilliant MP, Health Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and will make a great Mayor for Manchester.
(Dr Kailash Chand is deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) and has worked as a GP since 1983. He is ex-chair of Tameside and Glossop NHS)