A report issued today by a group of Labour MPs under the banner “Labour for the North” sets out the challenge the party face in recovering the ground the party has lost in its traditional northern heartlands and makes a series of recommendations that it says the party need to seriously consider if they are to recover that support.
The group, Labour for the North is co-chaired by Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders and Judith Cummins MP and Peter Dowd MP. Their report, “Labour’s Northern Soul: How Labour Can Rebuild the Red Wall Across the North” argues that the party’s decline in the North can be traced back well over a decade and that longer-term demographic and cultural trends have hampered the party’s performance.
The report which combines a summary of academic research and interviews with party members and candidates across the North makes a series of recommendations it is asking Keir Starmer to consider as part of his campaign for Labour to take office again at the next election. The group argue that this task will prove impossible if Labour cannot regain many of the seats it lost over the last decade in the North.
The group have called for a greater focus on the party’s northern credentials including a dedicated shadow minister for the north within the shadow treasury team as well as a much more expansive programme of devolution than what is currently on offer from the Government.
Labour for the North’s co-chair Justin Madders said, “Our report has shown there are many important issues that our former supporters can rally around if they can see the party is genuinely listening to them. We need to show that we recognise the current political settlement does not advantage the north and that the current Governments answer to that is ad hoc short-term stunts. We want to see a genuine transfer of power and resources to the north so that it has a much better chance of shaping its own destiny. If we were to do that wholeheartedly alongside the practical proposals we make in our report then we would see not only a step change in the life chances and prosperity of the north but of the party’s electoral prospects as well”.
Labour for the North’s co-chair Judith Cummins said, “Our report sets out the scale of the challenge Labour faces in the North, but also a clear action plan to rebuild support and win at the next election. Our report is clear that Labour must maintain a relentless focus on winning back our Northern heartland seats. The treatment of the North during the pandemic has once again shown that the North never has been and never will be a priority for a Conservative Government. Labour needs the North if it is to win power again, and the North needs Labour to deliver the transformational change it needs.”
Labour for the North’s co-chair Peter Dowd said, “The report demonstrates the challenges Labour faces, but they are not insurmountable. We owe it to those communities across the whole of country, especially those most affected by economic decline over decades, to set out a programme of change that will halt that decline and start the hard task of reversing it. In particular, the North has been badly served by a failed political culture which is dominated by Westminster and Whitehall’s ‘we know best’ approach. But it has proven time and again that it does not know best – all at a cost to our Northern cities and towns. Labour must be determined and single minded in changing that approach. We have the opportunity to do that, so let’s grasp it.”