Andy Burnham has just delivered the best speech from a Labour MP at conference. Taken from the autocue, it was emotive, stirring, tribal, and just what delegates needed. It seemed to have taken rather a number of lessons from the ‘Yes’ campaign in Scotland in that it was relentlessly negative about the threat that the Tories pose to the NHS and framed not voting Labour as an active threat to the health service.
Burnham got a number of standing ovations – the first was just a few words into his speech – and had the audience captivated throughout. Why? He spoke with a passion and a sense of purpose. When he reached the stage in his speech where he explained why he wanted better care standards, he spoke about his own family:
‘About ten years ago, I saw my own mum ground down and worn out by the battle to get decent care for my gran. She was in a nursing home where corners were often cut and where it was hard to get GPs to visit. The decent people who worked there were let down by the anonymous owners who filled it with untrained, temporary staff.
‘My gran’s things often went missing and we had got used to that. But I will never forget the day when we walked in to see her and her knuckle was red raw where her engagement ring had been ripped off. Right there, right then – I made it my mission to end this scandal.’
Burnham is good at stirring up the party, but this was especially good.