FORMER first minister Henry McLeish said he is likely to back Andy Burnham in the UK Labour leadership as he said the shadow health secretary has come up with the “most “radical” idea of the campaign by calling for a national care service as part of the NHS, writes Andrew Whitaker.
Mr McLeish, who introduced free personal care as first minister in 2001, said a key reason for him backing Mr Burnham was because of the former cabinet minister’s support for integrating the NHS and social care as a universal service free at the point of use. The former Scottish Labour leader has previously opted not to publicly endorse candidates in the party’s leadership elections since he left frontline politics. However, he said Mr Burnham also had a “better understanding of what’s required in Scotland” than the other three candidates in the contest: Jeremy Corbyn, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
Mr McLeish said that Mr Burnham, a former health secretary and chief secretary to the Treasury, was also the closer to the “roots of the party” than his rivals in the leadership election.
He said: “I’d tend to support Andy Burnham. Of all the candidates Andy Burnham is the most solid. He’s a person of humility and is close to the roots of the party. He’s also come forward with the only radical idea of the campaign to have a national health and care service. He wants to end the false distinction between health and social care.
“Andy Burnham is a credible candidate and he best suits the mood of the public and has a better understanding of what’s required in Scotland.”
Mr McLeish went on to say that Mr Burnham would be more effective in attacking the Tories and of opposing the UK government’s “extremist” austerity agenda.