Why I support Andy: Bryan Blears

I support Andy because Greater Manchester has had an unfair deal for far too long. London has reaped all the benefits of our politics and the North has been left out.

The devolution deal is a step in the right direction – but it’s also fraught with danger, allowing the Tories to blame Labour mismanagement for the inevitable GM NHS crisis which their policies have created. We need a capable and experienced politician to deal with housing, transport and critically, our health service. We also need a Mayor with the profile to stand up to the Tory government alongside Sadiq Khan and other regional mayors, putting up a front of resistance in Labour’s most important strongholds; our cities.

Andy fits the bill. His knowledge of health and social care will be crucial to addressing the deficit of approximately £114m in Greater Manchester’s NHS Trusts this year alone. His plan to bring social care back into the public sector is bold and the right thing to do, putting patients before profits. He has pledged to improve mental health services and to address the staff shortages within nursing by offering a new citywide bursary scheme. Andy’s strategy to save Greater Manchester’s NHS is not only crucial for our city, but for the country. If we can pull it off here, we can provide a blueprint for a national framework and hopefully a Labour government.

It is also about time that politics in Manchester had a serious overhaul. Devo Manc itself was agreed behind closed doors by a panel of 12 white males. That isn’t democratic or representative of our diverse city, and Andy has vowed to change things by having a gender-balanced combined authority, Mayoral question times and e-petitions, letting people from all 10 boroughs get involved in Greater Manchester’s politics.

As a resident in Salford, we have seen some regeneration through MediaCity, but the fringes still don’t benefit from all of the investment going into areas near the city centre. Rail and bus services are abysmal, and the trams have a limited coverage. Andy has promised to ensure that everybody in Greater Manchester receives investment in their local areas, rather than focussing solely on the city centre. He also wants to switch the focus of the GM housing fund to prioritise social housing instead of private developments.

Locally Andy has been out on the doorsteps meeting Labour members in Worsley, Eccles, Ordsall and Langworthy. His campaign has attracted people from all strands of the party to come together and is in my opinion the start of a more open and inclusive politics much needed for Greater Manchester. Andy’s vision is to make our city a beacon of social justice. That’s what I joined the Labour Party for and it’s what our party should be all about here in Manchester.

Bryan Blears, Salford, works for a Mental Health Trust