Is this a moment Andy Burnham will live to regret?

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Thursday 18 June 2015 11:10

In the first of a series of live debates to choose the next Labour leader, Liz Kendall appeared to get one over her rival Andy Burnham.


On a BBC Newsnight special on Wednesday, Burnham, who is seen by many as the left-leaning candidate, was questioned about the party being able to oust the next leader before the 2020 election if it wished.

"The party already has that rule," Burnham told host Laura Kuenssberg. "So the debate is maybe do you make it easier for your MPs. But yes the party comes first, always."

Burnham's "party first" quip was almost certainly in reference to the party over the individual, but in a soundbite that could come back to haunt him, Kendall jumped in: "Well, the country comes first."

The exchange was immediately picked up by right-wing political commentators. Times columnist Tim Montgomerie said the incident "will be hung around his neck by the Tory machine", bloggers Guido Fawkes described it as a "gaffe" and Telegraph assistant political editor Rosa Prince called it Kendall's "smartest blow".

More: The real reason Labour lost the election? The over-65s refused to vote for them