Photography by Sophie Collett and MJ Smith
Andy Burnham is a Labour politician and the serving Mayor of Greater Manchester since May 2017. He was previously the Member of Parliament for Leigh for 16 years.
Andy was born in Aintree, Liverpool in 1970 and raised in Culcheth, Warrington. Andy joined the Labour Party in 1984 at the age of 14. After undertaking a number of roles within the party, including a researcher and special advisor, Andy Burnham was eventually elected as Labour MP for Leigh in 2001.
Andy went on to hold many ministerial positions within the Labour Party including Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Health and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. In 2009, after being heckled at the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, Andy used the next day's cabinet meeting in Downing Street to ask then Prime Minister Gordon Brown if he could raise the issue of Hillsborough in Parliament. The eventual result was the second Hillsborough inquiry. After the Labour Party's defeat in the 2010 general election, Andy served as Shadow Secretary of State for Health and then Shadow Secretary of State for Education.
After the 2015 general election, in which Labour lost to the Conservative Party, Andy launched his campaign to succeed Labour leader Ed Miliband - he finished second behind Jeremy Corbyn. He subsequently accepted a role as Shadow Home Secretary.
In May 2016 Andy announced his candidacy to become Labour's candidate for the Greater Manchester Mayoralty. Andy was elected to the new role of Mayor of Greater Manchester on 5 May 2017. He received 63% of the vote, winning majorities in all ten of Greater Manchester's boroughs. Andy was re-elected in 2021, backed by 67.3% of voters to continue as the region's mayor for another term.
Politics has been too London-centric for too long … Greater Manchester is going to take control. We are going to change politics and make it work better for people - Andy Burnham (victory speech 2017)
Andy Burnham wins the GM Election, 2017 (Credit/Getty)
The issue of homelessness in Greater Manchester was a major focus of Andy’s mayoral campaign. He pledged to donate 15% of his mayoral salary to charities tackling homelessness if elected. After his election he outlined his plan to launch a "homelessness fund", with money going to homeless charities and mental health and rehabilitation services.
Coming only two weeks after his election as mayor, Andy Burnham had to respond to the Manchester Arena bombing on 23 May 2017, calling it an "evil act", while praising the "best immediate response" of local people, and thanking the emergency services. He later announced a vigil to be held in Manchester's Albert Square the following evening.
Greater Mancunians is a very exciting project showcasing many of our city-region’s most famous faces and giving an opportunity to some of our best young photographers to flex their creative muscles and demonstrate what they can do. It’s quite something to be featured alongside some of Greater Manchester’s greatest living actors, musicians, writers and performers and I can’t wait to see the final exhibition. - Andy Burnham
THE SHOOT: Manchester City Centre
The Mayor's office courtyard
Student reflection: Sophie Collett
The shoot took place in the courtyard of Andy Burnham’s office in central Manchester. We got there with plenty of time to spare, this allowed us to explore potential locations and experiment with possible poses. The only issue was that the courtyard is surrounded by buildings which restricted the amount of light available. We adjusted our camera settings and decided to use a reflector to direct the light on to the subject. Andy joined us a little later than scheduled, so we only had a limited amount of time to chat and complete the photography. - this added extra pressure. He was extremely friendly and very open to our ideas for the shoot.
Sophie in action
Andy was extremely interested in our project and in particular our current exhibition in the Northern Quarter. All in all, we managed to create some great character study portraits which reflect the more relaxed side to Andy Burnham’s personality. This shoot helped me with my confidence to work under pressure and tight deadlines. What a brilliant experience!