I have decided to stand to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester and I want you to know why.
As you know, I have always worked to serve our Party in the best way I can.
Coming out of last year's leadership election, I gave Jeremy Corbyn a promise that I would do whatever I could to support him and unite the Party.
I have kept that promise. I encouraged my supporters to join Jeremy's team and have given my all to my role as Shadow Home Secretary, working to defeat Tory plans for deep Police cuts and secure justice for the Hillsborough families.
But, now, our Party is with faced with a big decision on English devolution. We can't afford to neglect it like we did in Scotland.
I have discussed this with Jeremy and we agree that the move to elected Mayors presents a real opportunity to rebalance the country and revitalise Labour in the North. After 15 years as a Greater Manchester MP, in Leigh, I think I can best serve our Party in the years ahead by utterly devoting myself to that task. I have only made my decision known now as I did not want anything to distract from our local Election campaign.
By making a success of this new role, and pioneering radical policies, we can lay the foundations for a Labour victory in 2020. But that won't happen by chance.
This is a Cabinet-level job that requires Cabinet-level experience. Taking on the running of the NHS is a major responsibility. You need to have confidence that the person in charge knows the NHS inside-out and can be trusted to protect it. This is what I can offer.
But, as well as unrivalled Cabinet experience, I have a clear vision for what Greater Manchester can be in the future: a thriving European economic power and a beacon of social justice to the world.
I will be a radical Mayor for Greater Manchester pioneering policies such as:
- A focus on early intervention and the first 1000 days of life, setting the goal of making all of our four year-olds in Greater Manchester school-ready;
- Ending the age-old snobbery over technical education and giving all young people hope at the end of school through the guarantee of a quality apprenticeship;
- Setting the goal of an affordable home for all through a new rent-to-own scheme, buying out absent landlords and ending the blight of homelessness;
- An industrial strategy that works for the whole of Greater Manchester, supporting our outlying towns as well as the city centre, and securing our environmental sustainability; and
- Building the country's first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service, taking social care out of the private sector and into the NHS.
Over the coming days, I will be writing more detailed blogs on all of these ideas. But we won't get our policies right unless we first get our politics right.
I want Greater Manchester to be a beacon of inclusion and equality, start with a commitment to a gender-balanced Combined Authority. You can read my blog here:
The truth is that centuries of Westminster has failed the North. It has left us with an unbalanced country and an unfair distribution of money, power and life chances. I am ready to leave it and, in doing so, send a clear statement that the time has come to break our London-centric politics and rebalance this country from South to North.
Over the centuries, many important social and political movements have begun here. We have a chance to start a new one - the campaign for an equal England. I invite you to join it at the beginning and help me make Greater Manchester even greater as the home of a radical new politics.