Burnham's Balancing Act

The Labour frontrunner looks to protect his lead

As David Miliband could testify, the trickiest position to be in during the early stages of a leadership election is that of frontrunner. Your record is scrutinised more closely than that of your rivals, and your voters will invariably be tempted by any challenger donning the mantle of insurgent.

Today, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is giving a speech designed to cement his advantage in the Labour leadership contest but also establish him as a ‘change’ candidate. Burnham’s camp has reportedly been split on how to handle the rise of Liz Kendall, and this address – with its focus on business and Burnham’s own biography - looks intended to neutralise her appeal as a clean break from Labour’s past.

The other leading contender in the contest, Yvette Cooper, is also picking up the business theme with a visit to Tech City. The Shadow Home Secretary has made a limited impact on the race so far, but sought to exploit her frontbench role yesterday with some pointed jabs at Theresa May. With Labour members desperate for a leader who can take the fight to the Tories, such parliamentary turns will be critical for the contenders as they bid for the most unenviable role in British politics right now. 



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