It’s tough up north. Just ask Andy Burnham. The class warrior has today kicked off his Manchester mayoral campaign with some ‘home truths’ about what it is like to grow up in the north. Burnham says that if you live in the north and consider becoming a doctor, people will laugh at you:
‘It’s hard growing up in the north: if you say you want to be a doctor, lawyer or MP you get the mickey taken out of you.’
Alas this appears to be news to many… northerners. The Guardian‘s North of England editor Helen Pidd is among those northerners surprised by the news.
Really, Burnham? "It's hard growing up in the north: if you say you want to be a doctor, lawyer or MP you get the mickey taken out of you."
— Helen Pidd (@helenpidd) May 19, 2016
So, how have MPs in the north managed to survive in the face of such hardship? Mr S thought it best to speak to northern MPs in order to get an insight into how they cope.
William Wragg, the Conservative MP for Hazel Grove, was elected at the age of 27. He says that as a graduate of Manchester university — rather than Burnham’s Cambridge — his northern roots have not held him back one bit:
‘Burnham is wrong. I’m from the North, and went to a state comprehensive and to the local Manchester University. It may be that Andy Burnham was teased mercilessly at Cambridge University , but I am happy to say that being from the north hasn’t held me back one bit.
All this woeful wallowing does nothing to inspire the people of Greater Manchester, who are aspirational and want the best for themselves, their families, and their area. In fact, I’m sure they have aspirations far beyond the prospect of having Burnham as their mayor.’
So, could Wragg just be an anomaly in an otherwise grim north? Well, it turns out that David Nuttall — the Conservative MP for Bury North who grew up in Yorkshire — also hasn’t experienced such issues:
‘My view as someone who grew up in what was often referred to as the “Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire” and qualified as a Solicitor without going to University ( obtaining my law degree and doing my Law Society finals by correspondence ) before being elected to Parliament at the fourth attempt is that it does not matter where you are born if you are determined and you persevere you can achieve whatever you want in this Country.’
Nuttall adds to Mr S what he would like Andy to join him in ‘objecting to political correct quotas and such things as all women short lists in the Labour Party which just serve to make things harder for white working class men’.
Meanwhile Graham Brady, the Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, says he hopes Burnham will support his drive for education support in light of the comments:
‘My experience growing up in Altrincham, which has the best in state education of anywhere in the UK, is quite different and I hope Andy Burnham will see this as a good reason to support the extension of the grammar and high school model across greater Manchester so there are more opportunities for those who are aspirational no matter what their background.’
It’s one day in and Burnham’s mayoral campaign is already going down the pan up north.