Press Release: Labour needs to rediscover its Northern roots


10 May 2021, 18.45

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation has called for the Labour Party to re-discover its historic roots in the North of England and drive forward a progressive agenda which would include further – and more radical – devolution and voting reform, local procurement by the public sector to revive our towns, plus urgent investment in green manufacturing and infrastructure to tackle the climate emergency.

The Foundation is a cross-party think tank named in memory of Northern socialist, feminist and co-operator Hannah Mitchell.

“Labour’s mixed results in the North – a heavy defeat in Hartlepool but a strong performance in the metro mayor elections in West Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool – shows that the Party needs to listen carefully to what voters are saying. The work of the “M62 corridor mayors” Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, now joined by Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire, show there is potential for developing a popular progressive movement across the North. But it can’t be done from party offices in London. To devolve the country, Labour needs to devolve itself, it needs a Party structure where the regions have both autonomy and power,” said HMF spokesperson Paul Salveson

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation stresses that Labour’s Westminster MPs should now show humility, and commit to working with other parties to deliver a progressive majority which would make every vote count, with regions having stronger powers to deliver a flourishing economy. “Labour must now recognise that it can never again win a Westminster general election on its own. Unless Labour wakes up, the North is looking at the Conservative party being in power into the 2030s.”

The HMF is sending a strong message to the North’s Westminster Labour MPs that the party will not revive its standing in the so-called former ‘red-wall’ seats if the party is run from an office in Westminster. “We want to see a ‘Northern Labour’ that would have similar powers to the Welsh Labour Party in Wales, which was so successful in the 6 May election”.

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