Dead Men Left

Monday, May 22, 2006

The North, being grim

Fascinating creature, John Reid. Been keeping an eye on him and stumbled over this:

Instead, Reid sees the rise of New Labour as the regional Labour heartlands reclaiming a lost extremist metropolitan citadel. But despite the brogue and the working-class roots, Reid is the ultimate Labour iconoclast; there are no sacred cows in his personal political manifesto apart from a determined will to gain power. His policy aims are avowedly market capitalist. "The only thing that is constant is change. We should be permanent revisionists. We should never believe that what we are doing is essentially right because it pleases the party faithful. We must look and apply our analysis of the way society is working and prepare to update and change."

The first sentence is the most important - I just didn't want you to miss out on Reid's nudge-nudge, wink-wink with the "permanent revisionist". That line about Northern hordes descending upon the metropolis, out for loot perhaps, reminded me of this Times article on Cameron's difficulties:

In 1979 the Tories held many constituencies across the North, as well as a dozen in Scotland. Today they have only one in Scotland. Despite being accused of turning its back on the northern cities in the 1980s, the party held on to local government and Westminster seats under Margaret Thatcher and it was not until the 1990s that first Tory councillors, then MPs, were voted out.

There's a whole history to be written of the British Left's relationship to the North-South divide. (Actually, for all I know, it may already have been written. Anyone got any ideas?) It's something that stretches right the way back to Will Cuffay attempting to lead the metropolitan masses against the cowardly, Northern leadership of the Chartists in 1848; or Jarrow marchers refusing to join the London-centred NUWM. The triumphant march of Blairism into Downing Street would probably belong with those two, should we believe Reid's version of events.