Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham recalled memories of Chester when he spoke to The Chronicle prior to addressing the party faithful in a city centre pub.
Mr Burnham, who is seen as the only candidate able to stop popular left winger Jeremy Corbyn, is no stranger to Chester having been born over the water in Liverpool.
On Sunday evening the Shadow Secretary of State for Health spoke before a packed gathering of party members at The Golden Eagle in Castle Street in a bid to persuade them to vote for him.
Speaking beforehand, Mr Burnham told The Chronicle he knows Chester well and had ‘spent a lot of time over here’ in years gone by. He used to have a cousin in Chester and family members in Frodsham.
A massive Everton fan, one of his most vivid memories as a child was visiting The Dublin Packet in Town Hall Square because Everton legend Dixie Dean had been landlord there following his footballing career.
“My biggest connection with Chester is my gran took me to the Dublin Packet when I was about eight-years-old and he’d already passed on unfortunately,” said Mr Burnham, who this week delivered a speech in which he talked about involving Mr Corbyn in ‘rebuilding the party’.
He said: “I’m not denigrating what Jeremy has said because clearly what he’s saying is resonating with a lot of people and the right response is to say ‘well, why?’ and then to respond to that.
“The reason why is because I think people are fed up with politics as it has been in the party for quite a long time – you know, politics based on spin, on sound bites, shallow little policies not really adding up to much. I think people want something more but that’s what I’m offering too. I’ve got a radical vision that I’ve put forward in my manifesto.
“There’s a difference. Mine has got credibility at its heart. We will not win a general election unless the public trust us on the economy. So we can’t go around promising free university, re-nationalising utilities and expect to have credibility on the economy. So that’s the choice really now that people have got.”
Mr Burnham stressed the need for the Labour Party to remain united in the wake of the leadership contest.
“I’m the only candidate in this race that can unite the party coming out of it. There’s a rising factionalism around Labour. You know, if we don’t learn the lessons of our past and go back to a time when we were fighting each other rather than fighting the real enemy then we will let a lot of people down.
Pull this party together
“Back in the 80s, because Labour was fighting itself, we left the pitch clear for Margaret Thatcher to bulldoze her way through communities across the North West. That’s the risk of it. I can unite Labour because I’ve always been loyal to the party. I’ve never broken the Labour whip. I am the person here that can pull this party together.”
Fellow Everton supporter and Chester Labour MP Chris Matheson is backing his long-time friend all the way.
He said: “Andy has got the right blend of values of decency, fairness and economic credibility and also the experience in government and in opposition to unite the Labour Party and get us back to where we need to be which is a government that represents the whole country, that puts the economic interests of the whole country firmly at the centre and to not only unite the Labour Party but unite the United Kingdom. He’s the only person that can do that and I will absolutely be supporting him.”
Yvette Cooper at The Chronicle
Another Labour leadership contender, Yvette Cooper, popped into the offices of The Chester Chronicle on Friday afternoon.
The Shadow Home Secretary visited our Sealand Road office to be interviewed by reporter Steve Bagnall from our sister paper The Daily Post.
During the interview, she was asked why she thought Chester voted for a Labour MP and a Labour-controlled Cheshire West and Cheshire Council during an election which saw the rest of the country swing towards the Tories.
She said: “I think the areas where Labour did well were often cities and areas with universities and those were the areas where we increased our votes.
“But I also think Chris Matheson ran a great local campaign and all tribute to him and the local party because I think they did a really good job.
“The areas where we saw our votes fall back were obviously Scotland and tended to be coastal towns and smaller market towns and this is a challenge for us.”
Ms Cooper later attended a meeting of Chester Labour Party supporters at Lache Community Centre.