Campaign for Northern Democracy

We are working with sister organisations to launch a ‘Campaign for Northern Democracy’ – more news soon! This is our initial statement:

A invitation to join the Campaign for Northern Democracy – 2021: the year the North must take its destiny into its own hands

The North of England is in tough times. In 2021 they may well get tougher.  Covid has killed many thousands and upended the livelihoods of millions.  The end of the Brexit transition period will cause huge upheavals and potentially further major hardship.  Meanwhile, the Johnson government has plumbed new depths of contempt for democratic norms.

But the North’s problems of social injustice and strategic economic weakness were already there.  Forty years of ‘neoliberalism’ and ten years of austerity had taken their toll.  Now, the rollercoaster of successive crises is here to stay: global warming is with us, The Arctic is melting and nothing can be the same again even if we wanted it to be.

2021 offers the opportunity for a reset; people don’t want the new normal to be like the old normal.  The North must have a new economy and a new social contract; it can and must “build back better”.

A grassroots campaign to fix the North’s democratic deficit

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation proposes a Campaign for Northern Democracy to argue that constitutional and democratic reform is a vital ingredient in the great task of building a new economy and addressing social injustice across the North.  To succeed in fixing our social and economic problems, we must fix the problem of the North’s democratic deficit and abject subordination to London.  It’s not the whole solution, but it’s an indispensable part of the solution; and the North needs its own grassroots movement to demand it.

The Campaign for Northern Democracy can provide that grassroots movement.  We invite all citizens and organisations who are working for a better North of England, and agree that democratic reform in the North is part of what we need, to join us.

Initially we aim to be an umbrella group raising the profile of the issues and providing a platform for the broad, inclusive debate the North needs to have on the issues and the options.  In the future we may, should our members wish it, to campaign for specific policies and solutions.  As a member of the broad campaign, the Hannah Mitchell Foundation will work with others to specialise on developing the thinking behind, and practice of, progressive regionalism and regional democratic devolution, learning from what works elsewhere.

Things we could campaign on, with your help

  • More resources for local government in the North, promote democratic scrutiny (including of Metro Mayors), and ‘civics’ education about what local government does.
  • Help support independent regional and local media across the North, especially North-wide platforms for North-wide information exchange and debate.
  • Campaign for electoral reform to revitalise local and national elections, and for major reform of the Westminster parliament, Commons and Lords.
  • Stimulate debate across the North about the best form of democratic devolution – whether for the North as a whole or its constituent regions.
  • Support experiments in participative & deliberative democracy, and highly local democracy.

To discuss this further with HMF contact Richard Walker at