Socialism with a Northern Accent?
Regional government in England is starting to take off, following the excitement of the Scottish Refrendum. It has been a long time coming, spending 10 years in the doldrums following the failure of Labour’s referendum on a rather inspidid North-East devolution.
Devolution has worked in Scotland, Wales and London. It’s about time the North had its fair share of devolution too. Signs are that things are beginning to change in the wake of the amazing campaign for a ‘yes’ in the Scottish Referendum. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation (www.hannahmitchell.org.uk) is about developing a debate on what sort of regionalism is right for the North, ensuring accountability, inclusivity and democracy. Why not join?
I can also recommend taking a look at Yorkshire First and its sister north of the Tees, The North East Party. Radical regionalism is starting to move…..
Interested? There’s a facebook group and page (please like!) and a twitter feed (@HannahMFdn) , but email me and I’ll add you to the email group list as well. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is a campaign for regional government in the North with an emphasis on social justice and popular democracy. But we are not a ‘party’ organisation and members include Labour, Greens, Lib Dems – and lots of non-aligned people.
My book Socialism with a Northern Accent is available from the publishers, Lawrence and Wishart (www.lwbooks.co.uk) – it features Hannah Mitchell and her life, and presents a modern case for regional devolution.
The following articles might be of interest:
If you are interested in the debate on Scotland and independence, here is my response to David Cameron’s request that all of us ‘south of the border’ with friends and family in Scotland, write to them beseeching our loved ones to stay with us: (also published in Tribune)
There’s growing debate about the need for better rail links acropss the North (not just to London). This article will appear in RailFuture’s magazine this Autumn:
Various things that may be of interest:
Blue Labour or Red: which traditions do we celebrate?
Maurice Glasman’s ‘Blue Labour’ project seems to have captured the interest of Ed Miliband and other senior Labour politicians. There’s much in it that’s highly relevant to Labour’s renewal as a radical and democratic force; it’s right to re-connect with Labour’s heritage and highlight some of the radical traditions which have been lost or forgotten.
But equally, there is a risk of selective interpretation of Labour and socialist history which ignores the rich and very diverse socialist heritage across the UK and risks missing out on opportunities for a regional revival within England in particular.
‘Blue Labour’ is silent on the crucial importance of the trades unions in creating a mass base for the party when it was established in 1900. Rather than growing out of a disparate network of ‘mutuals’ and co-ops, it was a result of some very clever politicking by the ‘ethical socialist’ leaders of the Independent Labour Party, above all Keir Hardie and Ramsay Macdonald. The alliance between the socialists of the Independent labour Party (ILP) and the unions, many of whom were very reluctant converts from Liberalism, and in some cases Toryism, was what ultimately allowed Labour to eclipse Liberalism as the political expression of the working class after the First World War. The alternative, of a ‘socialist alliance’ between the ILP and the rigid Marxism of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) would have consigned socialism in Britain to the status of a modest-sized cult……….