One of the biggest questions now coming out of the Covid-19 crisis within the United Kingdom is that of equality and the British Government’s treatment of it. Many people in Northern England feel that they are being mistreated due to the majority of it being placed into Tier 3, contrary to the South. The irony is that many areas in the North are doing better with infection rates than the South, which is made very clear when comparing York with London; London having one of the highest infection rates in the UK Despite this, it still remains in Tier 2. The epidemic is thus reaffirming the idea that the UK is too Westminster focused. This leads to a new question – should the North be independent again?
First, a bit of a backstory for those who don’t know that the North used to be an independent Kingdom established in 653AD and was then annexed from Danelaw into the Kingdom of England in 954AD. It was called the Kingdom of Northumbria however this was a long time ago and today most Northerners identify as English or British.
With details of the tier groups being published, a new party on the scene called the Northern Independence Party has started to gain attention around the UK. They have announced that they plan to register as a legitimate party, currently only having limited company status. At the time of writing this article, they have also announced that they are planning to run in the UK elections for Northern seats in parliament. They also have a website called freethenorth.co.uk and have started to build a social media presence with active accounts on Facebook and Twitter, both of which are currently building a sizeable following.
Now the question boils down to this – is there still a chance for this movement to break ground within modern politics? By looking at what they want and what they stand for, we can see where this will place them within the UK’s political world. Their website clearly explains their mission directive and what they want in order to get a referendum, stating that ‘The Northern Independence Party is a grassroots movement campaigning for a referendum on an Independent Northern England.’
The party also has other ideas and values along with the goal of a referendum; such as their political ideas being based within traditional left-wing thinking. This can be seen with their case for independence where they heavily mention the ‘working class plight’. Their stance on the UK’s history and class structure is critical, stating that ‘the UK remains a former imperial power whose transition to democracy was just a pitiful series of concessions to the working class. The “UK” is irredeemable and we will break it.’
They also hold a strong stance on multiculturalism by stating that the North is also home to Irish migrants, Romani folk, Europeans from the continent and more recently migrants from India and Jamaica amongst others. They have also denounced the flag of Saint George; the traditional flag of the English nation and people.
Another value/idea they seem to hold is that of implementing economic democracy through enabling common ownership over the wealth they produce as a nation. On their website, it also states that they are pro green-tech and environment and one of their stated goals is to decarbonise the economy fully.
From the points listed on their website, it can be surmised that calling them a left-wing party would be an accurate statement, presenting themselves as a more radical left-wing version of the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru for Northern English sovereignty. Overall however, it is too early to see how much of an impact this potential party will have on the modern political stage.
Featured image credit: “File:Flag of Northumbria.svg” by Oren neu dag (talk) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0