Elections results 2021: Andy Burnham re-elected as Greater Manchester mayor

Video caption,

Andy Burnham thanked his family in an emotional victory speech

Labour's Andy Burnham has been re-elected as the mayor of Greater Manchester in a landslide victory.

The 51-year-old was backed by 67.3% of voters to continue as the region's mayor for another term.

Mr Burnham's popularity has seen him become the bookmakers' favourite to become the next Labour leader, even though he is not in the Commons.

Labour candidate Paul Dennett was also re-elected in the Salford city mayoral election, with 59% of the votes.

Mr Burnham became tearful as he thanked his family during an emotional victory speech.

He thanked those who voted for him and promised to continue to be a voice for "all people and communities" and to adopt a "place first" not party approach.

The Labour mayor said his three priorities were "better jobs, better homes and better transport" as he called on the government to "level up" in the north of England.

"Where the government gets it right and treats us fairly I will work with them but where they don't I will challenge them as forcefully as I can," he said.

"Greater Manchester expects nothing less."

Mr Burnham said his victory sent "a clear message to all Westminster parties... telling you to deliver more devolution".

He said voters could "see how it makes politics work better for them and that is reflected in the council votes across Greater Manchester".

"Don't give us devolution and be surprised if we answer you back particularly if you do things here you would never dare to do in London," he said.

Asked about any Labour leadership ambitions, Mr Burnham said the mayoral job was his priority and pointed out he had already unsuccessfully run for the job twice.

"I'm not just going to put myself forward unless they [Labour] needed me one day in the future, but we're not at that day," he said.

Image caption,

Andy Burnham will be the mayor of Greater Manchester for a second term

Mr Burnham's closest rival was the Conservative candidate Laura Evans who received 19% of the vote, while the Green candidate Melanie Horrocks received 4.4%.

He won 63.4% of the votes cast in 2017 and turnout this year was up by about 5% on the last election, to 34.7%.

Mr Burnham's confrontation with the government over coronavirus restrictions in Greater Manchester last year saw him being dubbed "the King of the North" by one of the city's bars.

He also criticised the Tory government's initial response on financial support during last autumn's regional lockdown.

Analysis

By Kevin Fitzpatrick, BBC Radio Manchester political reporter

After his very public row with the government last year, Andy Burnham was branded 'King of the North' and he may feel like that after increasing his majority at this election.

With the Labour party, nationally, wounded and weary, he's managed to win handsomely after a difficult first term which began with the Manchester Arena bomb and ended with a year-long pandemic.

Mr Burnham's opponents saw the recent crisis at Greater Manchester Police, where the force was put into special measures, as a last minute chink in his armour. His failure to end rough sleeping as promised was another attack line for other candidates.

For his part, the former Labour leadership hopeful made the reform of buses his key policy, promising to take back control of the network from private companies, and improve the experience for passengers as a result.

Mr Burnham is a rare political beast in the North of England these days, one who's recognised by those not ordinarily interested in politics. Local Conservatives feel the "Burnham bounce" as they describe it, also helped his party retain more councillors in key local election battles.

In the analysis of what's going wrong for Labour, focus will no doubt also fall on what Andy Burnham, and some of the party's other victorious mayors, appear to be doing right as well.

In the Salford mayoral election, Mr Dennett won the first round with 59% of the votes - an improvement for Labour on the 2016 result when voting had to go to a second round.

In his victory speech he asked party leaders "to look not only to Salford but also to Greater Manchester under the leadership of Andy Burnham, where our losses have been more limited".

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