LEADERSHIP frontrunner Andy Burnham is facing his political opponents head on — by inviting UKIP supporters to a meeting to investigate why Labour lost support to the party.

Mr Burnham is holding a meeting in Atherton today, where he has invited UKIP supporters in a bid to learn from May's general election results.

The 45-year-old, who has been the MP for Leigh for the past 15 years, is bidding to fight off competition from Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn to become the leader of the party.

Former Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, who is helping to organise the event, is backing Mr Burnham as the best candidate to take on the job.

She said: "Andy is the person that can win back those people who voted for UKIP.

"Immigration was the most important issue for those people, and the things we were offering did not appeal to them.

"They listened to Nigel Farage who said we should leave the European Union, which would stop all of this immigration and that all our problems would be solved, which is sheer nonsense. The reality is that it would get a whole lot worse if we left the EU.

"Immigrants aren't causing the problems, it is other things that are causing the problem."

Ms Hilling lost her seat to Conservative Chris Green by just 801 votes, after winning the poll in 2010 with an even slimmer majority of just 92 votes.

At May's general election, UKIP pushed the Conservatives into second place in Bolton South East after the party gained 9,627 votes, a 19.7 per cent increase on the party's 2010 result.

The party also came third in Bolton West and Bolton North East.

UKIP sent shockwaves through Bolton Council at last year's local elections, after the party gained its first two council seats in Greater Manchester.

But Ms Hilling says Mr Burnham, the bookies' favourite for the Labour leadership, has what it takes to attract UKIP voters to Labour.

She added: "I think what we need is a leader who communicates in a straightforward way with people. Andy is from an ordinary background and he understands people.

"If you look at his constituency, Leigh is a very poor area, so Andy gets it. He understands that we will have to work hard to get these people back."