John Prescott throws his weight behind Andy Burnham as party leader

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott is backing Andy Burnham as Labour leader. Announcing his support, Prescott says he sees the skills and qualities of a young Tony Blair in the shadow health secretary.

Prescott says in his Sunday Mirror column that he believes Burnham, who was first elected an MP in 2001, has the experience and ability for the job.

“Before Tony [Blair] became our leader, he spent 11 years as an MP,” he writes. “In that time he learned his brief, gained the experience, handled the media and won the public trust with an overwhelming landslide.

“As we saw with the withdrawal of Chuka Umunna, who was only elected to parliament in 2010, having years of experience as an MP is essential for a party leader.

“I have seen a lot of those skills and qualities in Andy Burnham during his 13 years as an MP. Many people talk about aspiration, but Andy is a living example. A working-class lad from Liverpool who went to a comprehensive and got a place at Cambridge University.”

Prescott, who did not endorse any leadership candidate in 2010, adds: “Blair wasn’t the complete leader when he was elected. It took time and he made mistakes. But he had the potential, the ideas, the experience and the determination to succeed.

“Tony was a winner. We now need someone who can earn the trust of the public and has an insatiable desire to help everyone get on in life. Not New Labour or Old Labour. We need someone to lead Now Labour.”

It is understood that John Healey, shadow health secretary from 2010-11, will join the race for the deputy leadership this week.

Meanwhile, more than 100 Liberal Democrat councillors have thrown their support behind Tim Farron for leadership of their party.

Powered by article was written by Daniel Boffey, for The Observer on Sunday 24th May 2015 00.03 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010