Jeremy Corbyn is hoping to win over Labour supporters in the party’s northern heartlands with a promise to fight the “cruel deception” of George Osborne’s plans to turn the region into an economic powerhouse.
The Labour leadership front-runner told thousands of supporters at rallies in Sheffield and Manchester he would champion the North and ensure its voice was heard in Westminster.
He announced the creation of a new Labour group called Northern Futures, which he said would put forward policy ideas to rebalance the UK economy “in favour” of the North. Mr Corbyn also pressed home his manifesto pledges for the region to “empower” the North by rebuilding its industrial base.
He had earlier called for the northern railways to be put under state control, and for an investigation into the 1984-5 miners’ strike to “address past injustices”.
Under Mr Corbyn’s proposals, a bid would also be launched to stop the “brain drain” of graduates quitting the North for London.
Speaking ahead of a rally in Manchester, a fortnight before the leadership results are declared on 12 September, Mr Corbyn said: “For too long, talk of Northern regeneration has been little more than Southern hot air. I’m delighted that our astonishing campaign this summer has given birth to Northern Futures, an organisation which will put forward policy ideas to rebalance the economy more fairly in favour of the North.”
Labour leadership: The Contenders
Labour leadership: The Contenders
1/2 Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn started off as the rank outsider in the race to replace Ed Miliband and admitted he was only standing to ensure the left of the party was given a voice in the contest. But the Islington North MP, who first entered Parliament in 1983, is now the firm favourite to be elected Labour leader on September 12 after a surge in left-wing supporters signing up for a vote.
2/2 Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham started out as the front-runner in the leadership election, seen as the candidate of the left until Jeremy Corbyn entered the race. The former Cabinet minister has found himself squeezed between the growing populism of Corbyn’s radical agenda and the moderate, centre-left Yvette Cooper, not knowing which way to turn. It has attracted damaging labels such as ‘flip-flop Andy’, most notably over his response to the Government’s Welfare Bill. He remains hopeful he can win enough second preference votes to take him over the 50 per cent threshold ahead of Corbyn.
The launch of Northern Futures came after Mr Corbyn brought out a consultation document asking Labour supporters in the North what issues mattered to them most. More than 1,200 people responded, with some saying they wanted a body that would give the region “a proper voice”.
Mr Corbyn said his policies for the North would be shaped by the Northern Futures body, which has been launched with the backing of Northern Labour MPs Jon Trickett, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Richard Burgon, Cat Smith and Grahame Morris.
Mr Trickett, the MP for Hemsworth in West Yorkshire, said: “The North of England has always been one of the great engines of British prosperity and a world leader in invention, innovation and progress. We have some of the world’s leading universities, too. But industrial decline and an economy that works more for the City of London than it does for the rest of the country has left the North with a legacy of underinvestment, poor competitiveness, low wages, low skills and low productivity.
“Jeremy’s consultation document inspired us with an astonishing number of people taking part. Nobody asked for a hand out, but people here want investment and they want to know that our voices will be heard.
“That’s why we are launching Northern Futures. It will be the organisation that stands up for issues that matter to people in the North of England who are too often forgotten inside the Westminster bubble.”
The announcement came as Mr Corbyn’s leadership rival Andy Burnham was spending the bank holiday weekend touring northern cities with a pledge to win back more than a million voters lost to Ukip in the general election.Reuse content