Matt Jones

Link Notes 31 March 2021

Northumbria Credit: Matt Jones · CC BY-SA 3.0

The Northern Independence Party

The Northern Independence Party is a new political party aimed at secession of the North of England, making it an independent country called Northumbria.

Northumbria was a medieval Kingdom spanning from the Humber (from which the name Northumbria derives) to the Forth in Scotland, and it remains a traditional name for the smaller area of Northumberland and Country Durham.

What’s surprising about the extent of Northumbria (especially if you aren’t looking at a map of it) is that the Humber and Mersey are at roughly the same latitude, so what is now Liverpool was also in Northumbria, as was Widnes and Warrington in Cheshire.

The founding of the party has split opinion on the left, largely due to the fact that if candidates are standing in marginal seats in the so called ‘red wall’ constituencies it’s going to split the vote in favour of the Conservatives.

Having spent the best part of 20 years travelling between the south west of the medieval Northumbria region, and the east midlands of it (Newcastle and Gateshead) I have a real sense of its cultural identity, Northumberland retains much of its folk traditions lost elsewhere in England.

So I get why the party exists, the North suffers from the disparity between the amount invested in London and the South East compared to the North, examples being poor rail connectivity between the northern cities, lack of regulation of public transport services making them expensive and not joined up, and more recently a major shortfall in funding from central goverment to northern councils, in the name of austerity.

I also quite like the tongue-in-cheek nature of the party’s communications strategy; the use of flat caps, whippets and ferrets in their visual identity plays to the stereotypes people have of northerners, and if the existence of the party is bringing attention to the cultural and economic importance of the North, then that’s a good thing.

That said, I don’t think secessationism is a progressive way forward. While I think that people have the right to self-determination, I think nationalism generally is dangerous and devisive. In my view what we need is a better electoral system in a United Kingdom where people can proudly retain their traditions and languages at the same time as being properly represented in a centralised government, preferably one not administered from London.

BBC Four to become archive channel as cost-cutting drive continues

For me, this is a continuation of the shutting down of the BBC as a major contributor to the creative / cultural fabric of the UK.

I think the Tories want to make the BBC less significant in our lives, to make it simply just one of many content services we subscribe to.

On this day, from the archive