Full text of the resolution adopted by the Annual General Meeting of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, 4 December 2021
Recognising that the North of England is currently in:
- a climate emergency – in which we have very little time to stop burning fossil fuels, or risk making our world uninhabitable;
- a social and economic emergency – in which millions of our people are mired in poverty, unable to afford decent food, housing, home heating;
- a democratic emergency – in which Boris Johnson’s openly corrupt Conservative party is attacking basic democratic norms such as the right to protest, fair elections and an independent judiciary; and
- a ‘truth emergency’ – in which billionaires based outside the region control Northerners’ access to news and information, and maintain their power by spreading propaganda through both mainstream media and social media such as Facebook;
the Hannah Mitchell Foundation argues that root and branch democratic and constitutional reform of the UK is an essential ingredient of any attempt to respond to these emergencies and calls for:
- democratic reform of the UK and a new constitution: a constitutional convention to draw up and recommend a written constitution for the United Kingdom, to reform our democracy and guarantee our freedoms against the risk of the gross abuse of power inherent in the current structure of the British state and its unwritten constitution;
- a voice for the North in the debate over the UK’s future: the North of England’s regions specifically recognised and represented in discussions about the future relationship between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland;
- democratic devolution to the North: power to address our social, economic and financial needs devolved to regional government at least comparable to what Scotland already has;
- progressive regionalism: pride in the best of the North’s radical traditions, cultural & political identity in a modern civic regionalism open to everyone from all social backgrounds, ethnicities and religions;
- electoral reform to give us a fair voting system: proportional representation as an outcome of free and fair elections;
- reform of the media, including protecting public service broadcasting and the press;
- reform to revive and strengthen the North’s great local government tradition in relation to new regional government;
- experiments in participatory and deliberative democracy at various levels of local and regional government; and
- urgent action to stamp out corruption in the Westminster parliament.
Therefore the Hannah Mitchell Foundation resolves to do the following in 2022:
- Provide a focal point to bring people together (irrespective of political affiliation) to campaign for the above;
- Stimulate debate on the options and possible forms for democratic regional devolution in the North;
- Seek allies to form a broader campaign for Northern democracy;
- Build links with and learn from other regions and nations in Britain, Europe and worldwide to strengthen our campaign.
- Start work on defining the options for devolution and stimulate debate on them.
- Work with others to develop a citizens’ assembly or assemblies or constitutional convention to move the discussion forward.