LABOUR will awaken the “sleeping giant” of northern England through a radical programme of democracy and investment in infrastructure, MP Jon Trickett said yesterday.
Mr Trickett was speaking at a Labour conference fringe meeting in Brighton, part of The World Transformed (TWT) festival, when he said a “citizen-led” constitutional convention would help transform the north and rebuild society from the bottom up.
He warned that power and influence over the economy, politics and other key areas were held by a “handful of people from the same kind of background.”
With power centralised in Westminster, the north suffers from austerity and lack of investment, he added.
Former deputy prime minister John Prescott told the meeting that a regional strategy should devolve power and decision-making.
“Its structure should rest in the north, not the south,” he said.
The former north-east MP was an advocate of devolving power to the north of England, but plans for a northern regional assembly were rejected in a 2004 referendum.
Mr Trickett said that while inequality was based on class, there were also regional factors. As an example, he noted that 250,000 children are living in poverty in Yorkshire.
“The north is being left behind,” he told the meeting, warning that “the economic model is broken and needs fixing.”
He called for a “clean break” and said there was hope for a “new politics, a new economics and a new society” with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the Labour Party.
Mr Trickett said that a Labour government would hold a “constitutional convention” on building society from the bottom up, “led by citizens” making local decisions.
“The north stood by Labour for over 100 years,” he said. “Now it’s time that Labour stood by the north.”