Press release from Liam Byrne MP
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Byrne: “my priority - jobs, jobs, jobs”
Hodge Hill MP and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne today (Friday 30 March) formally announced his intention to become Labour Mayor of Birmingham.
Liam Byrne was joined by supporters from across the city including Labour Group Leader Sir Albert Bore who will join the Hodge Hill MP as number two on a Byrne/Bore ticket.
Byrne told supporters that he plans to do everything he can to win back Europe’s biggest authority for Labour, to secure a Yes vote in the Mayoral referendum, and then to fight for the Labour nomination.
“I’m announcing today that if the city votes yes for a mayor, then I will seek to be Labour’s candidate for office.
“I want to be Mayor because I love our city – and I believe its best days are ahead. Our city is my home. My children will grow up here. And I want to use every skill I have, and all the passion I can bring, to make Birmingham the place we all know it can be.
“I talked it over with my leader, Ed Miliband, on Sunday, and he said go for it. We agreed that if there was a yes vote in May, I would step down from the Shadow Cabinet to fight to become the first Labour mayor of Birmingham. I’m grateful to him, for his faith in me, and for his support for Birmingham.
“My focus now is clear: to win this city council for Labour in May. Half the seats we need are in Hodge Hill, so I am determined to win.
“But I want to campaign for a Yes vote because I believe a mayor can pull this city together like no one else. And we need to gather our forces.
“Great new markets are opening up around us. They offer our city unprecedented hope. But we won’t seize those chances tomorrow, unless we pull together today.
“If we want our performance to match our potential we need someone with the mandate to knit together a team, to knock heads together; to say to residents: when things aren’t good enough, the buck stops here. I want the residents of Birmingham to be the people who hire and fire the one in charge of getting things done.
“My three priorities will be very simple: jobs, jobs, jobs.
“Our ingenuity, our strength, and our tolerance are what we have got to draw on.
“I believe I’ve got the right values, the right experience, the right priorities to make the most of those virtues.
“Generations of people have made our city what it is today. Five generations of my family were among them. But as a husband and a dad with a family and three kids growing up fast I want our future to be better still. I believe that together we can show the country how those futures are built.”
Byrne announced that Sir Albert Bore is joining his team. He said:
“I am most grateful for the support from the fantastic Sir Albert Bore. If the city votes yes, we will seek to form a Labour administration together in November. He is a man, quite simply, with an unparalleled experience, commitment and a track record of getting things done in Birmingham – and we have worked together in Labour politics for nearly 10 years”.
Sir Albert Bore said:
“For 12 years I have advocated cities being led by elected mayors. Birmingham needs to vote yes on 3 May and then elect a mayor who will deliver the many initiatives the city needs if it is to position itself for the future, nationally and internationally.
“I had previously intended to stand myself but I now want to join up with Liam Byrne and work for Liam’s election as Birmingham’s first elected mayor. He will make a great elected mayor.”
Notes to editors
1. What senior Labour figures say about Liam:
“Since you won your by-election in Hodge Hill in 2004, you have been a formidable campaigner, a successful minister and a key member of my Shadow Cabinet.”
Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
“Liam is a passionate champion for Birmingham and will make a brilliant mayor. Together, Liam and Albert are exactly the right team take the city forward.”
Lord Hattersley, former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Sparkbrook
“The Mayor of Birmingham needs to be a big hitter for the city and Liam Byrne can be that figure. Liam has real passion for Birmingham and genuine vision for the city. He is interested in doing things and not just saying them, and that is what any city needs. Liam can win the city for Labour, and then show what Labour can do in government.”
Rt Hon David Miliband MP, former Foreign Secretary
“When I worked with Liam Byrne at the Treasury, he fought tirelessly to help create jobs and get our country moving. Liam is a passionate, dedicated man you can trust to get the job done.”
Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP, former Chancellor of the Exchequer
“This is brilliant news for Birmingham. If I had to think of an ideal fit to be the city’s mayor – deep knowledge, broad contacts and who puts investment and jobs first – it would be Liam”.
Lord Mandelson, Former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
“Liam was a superb regional minister for the West Midlands, and if the referendum is carried he will be a big voice for Birmingham”
Jim Cunningham MP, Chair, West Midlands Parliamentary Labour Party
“I have worked with Liam as a campaigner, back bench MP and more recently as his Parliamentary Private Secretary. He combines care for the underdog with an impressive grasp of policy. As a native of Birmingham and a former businessman he has a passion for the City and a vision for its future.”
Adrian Bailey MP, Chair of Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee
“Liam has the vision, ideas and ambition to turn Birmingham into a world class city by building on its achievements, and by tapping into the creativity,energy, dynamism and the rich diversity of this great city. He has worked tirelessly to represent the people of his constituency and has a track record of delivering for people across diverse communities. As someone who has worked with him over the years, I know Liam is passionate about local democracy and committed to delivering for the people of Birmingham both through his national work in government and in opposition. He cares deeply about empowering and engaging local communities and especially young people to reach their potential.”
Rushanara Ali MP
2. Copy of the letters exchanged between Liam Byrne and Ed Miliband:
Thank you for kind words at the weekend. I write to say that if the residents of Birmingham vote ‘yes’ for a mayor, then I will seek to be Labour’s candidate. And over the next month I will be working to secure a Labour victory in the council elections.
We need just four seats to win back control of Europe’s largest local authority – half of those seats are in my constituency. It has been my privilege to help chair the group that has drawn up one of the most detailed and radical Labour manifestos for the city in over a decade. I am passionate about wanting Labour to win.
When we met we agreed, that I should continue to serve in the Shadow Cabinet until we know how the city has voted – and that if there is a yes vote in May, I will step down from the Shadow Cabinet to fight to become the first Labour mayor of Birmingham.
You know I have always been passionate about local government. It’s in the blood. I have written about it extensively. In government, I pursued the role West Midland’s Regional Minister with zeal. At the Treasury, I sought radical new powers for councils.
I am firmly of the view, that just as in the 1930s, strong Labour councils are foundation stones for the next Labour government. As chair of your policy review, I have seen idea and idea that I know can make a difference today. I believe that Labour’s senior politicians have a responsibility to make sure those foundations are as strong as possible.
Most important, like thousands of Birmingham residents, Sarah and I are raising our children, Alex, John and Lizzie, in a city that is being badly let down by the Tories and the Lib Dems. Unemployment is rocketing. Businesses are closing. Police are being cut. The NHS is being taken apart.
I cannot in good conscience stand by and let that happen to a city that five generations of my family helped build – and I believe that I have the values, the experience and the priorities to lead our city to a better future.
I am glad to be able to say that I have joined forces with the leader of the Labour group, Sir Albert Bore. If the city votes ‘yes’ for a mayor, and if I am lucky enough to win Labour’s selection and then the election, Albert and I will seek to form a joint administration.
We are both incredibly grateful for the expressions of support from across the Labour family and across our city.
Can I conclude on a personal note? It has been simply a privilege to serve you in your shadow cabinet these last two years. You have brought an incredible and inspiring force to Labour: to our values, to our ideas, to our campaigning energy.
You have also provided incredible support and counsel to me both in the policy review and the shadow work and pensions brief.
I hope that one day, in the not too distant future, I can repay you by helping make sure that Birmingham is one of the foundation stones on which you build the next Labour government – and I hope that one day, not long from now, I can welcome you to my home city, as Labour’s prime minister.
Thank you for your letter following our conversation on Sunday about your decision to seek the Labour nomination should Birmingham’s residents vote in favour of a Mayor in May. I understand the attractions that the post of Mayor of the second biggest city in the country has for you.
Whilst it obviously makes sense for you to stand down from the Shadow Cabinet should Birmingham vote “yes” we agreed that you would not stand down before that, and that you would continue to serve in the Shadow Cabinet if there is a “no” vote in May.
Since you won your by-election in Hodge Hill in 2004, you have been a formidable campaigner, a successful minister and a key member of my Shadow Cabinet.
I am deeply appreciative of your contribution as Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, your work on the party’s Policy Review and the work you are currently putting into supporting Labour’s candidates for the local Council elections in Birmingham.
As you say if Birmingham does decide to introduce a Mayor we have an opportunity, whoever wins the party’s nomination from a strong field of candidates, to show in Birmingham, and elsewhere, what a Labour government can do for our country come the next General Election.
Let me say finally that it is a pleasure to work with you.
You have brought insight, strategic thinking and deep commitment to your work for the Labour Party.
I look forward to working with you in the future in whatever capacity you serve.
With best wishes