"Andy Burnham is rejecting lockdown for political gain," Manchester caller tells James O'Brien

16 October 2020, 12:36

By Fiona Jones

This caller from Manchester told James O'Brien he believes the Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is refusing the toughest level of Covid restriction for "his own political gain."

Greater Manchester will "stand firm" against Government plans to move the city into the toughest level of Covid restrictions, the mayor Andy Burnham has said.

Likening the north to being Westminster's guinea pig, Mr Burnham said local leaders were "unanimously opposed" to the introduction of "flawed and unfair" Tier Three rules.

Caller Alex lives in Manchester and "has an issue with the way Andy Burnham is handling this".

He told James: "I feel like what he's doing is for his own political gain because what is he actually trying to achieve here?"

James answered that he is trying to achieve what the Lancashire County Council has achieved which £42 million of support for people who are forced not to work if they go into Tier Three - currently, if put into the strictest lockdown people in Greater Manchester "would have to make ends meet on £5.60 an hour."

Alex acknowledged that the mayor is calling for financial support, "but the longer this takes and the more he delays, the more out of control the spread of the virus can get in Manchester.

"That's going to lead to more severe and lengthier measures in the long term...and do more damage to the local economy anyway."

James countered that while Alex's point about the virus spreading is "irrefutable", he did not see Mr Burnham as putting politics above people: "This is simply the Mayor asking that furloughed workers receive support similar to what the whole country received during the main national lockdown."

James said, "His motivation is...that the last lockdown was really tough, why on earth would we move back into it with less help and support in place?

"That is also quite hard to argue with."

The caller said he agrees with the Mayor on that fundamental point, acknowledging the rock and the hard place he is experiencing.