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My son's no pushover, says father of Labour challenger.

Byline: David Bartlett

LIVERPOOL-BORN Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham's father last night told the Daily Post: "My son's no pushover."

Roy Burnham, 69, said his former Health Secretary son - who is seen as one of the "nice guys" of politics - should not be underestimated.

He said: "He is tougher than people think he is. People tend to think he is just a nice guy, but underneath he is tough.

"If things are happening which he does not agree with, he will take action. He is definitely not a pushover."

The retired British Telecom engineer, who lives in Culcheth, near Warrington, with his wife Eileen, 70, said his middle son always had a steely determination since he was a boy as a fast bowler for Lancashire schoolboys cricket team.

Mr Burnham snr said: "He has always been driven. He mixed a lot, he played a lot of sport and was popular when he was younger.

"But he was rigid in his studies.

At a certain time in the evening, he would go and do his homework.

"We sort of knew early on he was destined for better things and that is coming out now he is going for the Labour party leadership."

Mr Burnham snr, who instilled a passion for Everton FC in his 40-year-old son, said he was proud all his three children were involved in public service.

Andy's elder brother, Nick, is the vice-principal of Carmel College, in St Helens, while his youngest, John, teaches at Birchwood high school, in Warrington.

Mr Burnham said: "Andy was the first member [of the Labour party] and then we all followed.

"But we were socialists from the year dot. It went through both sides of the family.

"Andy is not old Labour, but he is certainly left of New Labour.

He is in the middle, I suppose."

Mr Burnham jnr will face Diane Abbott, David Miliband, Ed Balls and Liverpool-born John McDonnell in the leadership race.

Each has to attract the nominations of 33 MPs before their name is added to the ballot paper.

Mr Burnham snr said: "I think he stands as good a chance as anybody. He is young, obviously, but they are all around his age group."

He said his son, who likes indie music and plays the guitar, was a "well-rounded character" who can cope with high office.

He said: "He thrives on pressure really. The thought of just being an ordinary MP while the Tories are in power - this is another challenge.

"All the family were involved in his decision and fully supported him."

He said one of his son's advantages in the leadership challenge would be his personal touch. Mr Burnham jnr was born in Old Roan but moved to Culcheth when he was a boy, attending St Aelred's Catholic High School, in Newton-le-Willows.

CAPTION(S):

Andy Burnham pictured with friends Andy Burnham and family on a day trip Picture: JAMES MALONEY/ jm200510burnham-9
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 21, 2010
Words:487
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