Andy Burnham: Scotland 'missing a trick' by not having elected mayors
Andy Burnham has said Scotland is “missing a trick” by not having elected mayors in line with other parts of the UK.
Burnham, who was reelected mayor of Manchester last year, said it would be “natural” to add Glasgow to a four-city agreement which already includes his city as well as Liverpool, Dublin and Belfast.
In a wide-ranging interview with Holyrood, Burnham called for more devolution to help address issues with the UK political system.
He said: “I genuinely do think Scotland is missing a trick in terms of not being part of this and having elected mayors. I was in Belfast recently, with Steve Rotheram the mayor of Liverpool, and in Dublin recently too, and the two of us did the first-ever joint mayoral visit overseas as well.
“We have signed a four-city agreement, so Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast, and it would just be natural to have Glasgow in that mix. There’s a core of common shared history, isn’t there, and a common sort of culture?”
Burnham said cities across the UK “aren't empowered enough”.
He added: “We meet mayors in the US, and they’ve got unbelievably well-developed powers. And I think, certainly on a climate point of view, cities are going to be the prime movers and they need to be able to move and move quickly.
“And if Glasgow were in the mix with us, if Glasgow had an elected mayor, or in Gordon Brown’s phrase, ‘an elected provost’, I would be on the phone to that person, I would think, once a fortnight at least.
“And that would move things to a more practical relationship between England and Scotland and perhaps away from the big ‘P’ political, which can sometimes hold us back and create barriers. I do think we’re a strong force to get change done and that could work for us in the North of England and for Scotland if we were to do more together and to join forces.”
Burnham said there were political similarities between Scotland and the north of England, something he claimed was not well understood by the SNP.
“We feel more comfortable with Scotland than other parts of England...we don’t see life the same way, if you like, as let’s say that the Westminster set do and I think sometimes the SNP lump us all in together as one England and it’s not like that, you know, it’s a different place, in different regions, and you would have thought Nicola Sturgeon, of all people, would have understood the sensitivities of that.”