The frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, Andy Burnham, will try to turn Labour infighting to his advantage by warning that the party has become “frightened of its own shadow” and would lack the courage to create the NHS today.
In a speech today, he will seek to address the surprise surge in popularity of Jeremy Corbyn – who originally needed Burnham’s support to get on the ballot - who is doing well in opinion polls and has called for the renationalisation of railways and energy companies.
Speaking at a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the election of Clement Attlee’s government, Burnham will argue Labour has abandoned its roots.
The shadow health secretary will say:
You would think that would be cause for joyous celebration, but I mark it with a sad realisation that the modern Labour party could not have created the NHS.
It has become frightened by its own shadow and does not have the courage or capacity to do it. It has become a purveyor of retail politics, trading in the devalued currency of policy gimmicks designed to grab a quick headline but which don’t change the world.
This comes after Tony Blair told the party that they should not be enticed by Corbyn as a route toward electoral success.
Yet Burnham will also criticise opponents of Corbyn who resort to negativity about his campaign for misjudging the political mood of Labour members:
What our members are telling us is that they are yearning for a different style of politics from Labour and a break with the bad habits of the past.
They are sick of politicians speaking in soundbites, sticking to the script and looking like they don't believe a word they are saying.
Ballot papers for the vote will be distributed on 14 August.