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“The Smiths haven’t lasted well”: Andy Burnham, Traitor

John Rentoul

burnham 300x294 “The Smiths haven’t lasted well”: Andy Burnham, TraitorI could hardly believe what I was hearing, from a Manchester MP. Andy Burnham “really was a Smiths fan” once, he told me when I interviewed him for tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday.

“I had the old Morrissey quiff, I really was into everything that Morrissey said, every record.” And Burnham holds Morrissey “personally responsible for what I’m doing now”, because that “warbling away about literature” lifted his sights; it gave him the “idea that you could aspire to bigger things beyond where you were”. For his eight Desert Island Discs, during the Labour leadership campaign in 2010, Burnham chose three Morrissey songs: “How Soon Is Now?”, “There Is a Light” and “Every Day Is Like Sunday”.

But now he admits that, when he plays the music to his children, eight, eleven and 13, “the only song that they will really relate to is ‘How Soon Is Now?’ It has a vibe, or a beat, a bit more of the reverb thing going on, but the jingly-jangly yodelling-type lyric does feel a bit trapped in Eighties indy-land.”

Is this not a betrayal? “It might sound like that, mightn’t it? And I do feel guilty about that. But I did drift away a little bit from the devotion part. I really was into everything that Morrissey said, every record, I was very into all of that. But then did drift away.”

More from Burnham, on being accused of presiding over a “sinister culture of cover-up” as Health Secretary, and on his plans for “renewing the NHS settlement” on the 65th anniversary of the “national religion”, a health service now beset with disbelievers, in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday.

Update: I should have added that I am a bit of a Smiths Revisionist myself.

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