Category Archives: Press Releases

Press releases and resources from the Hannah Mitchell Foundation. For media enquiries please contact paul.salveson AT btinternet DOT com 07795 008691

A Northern Agenda for progress

A NORTHERN AGENDA

The EU Referendum has thrown British politics into turmoil. Completely absent from the debate has been any thought as to the implications for the North of England, which voted – overall – heavily for Brexit. We recognise that there were many different and contradictory reasons for that, including a strong sense of marginalisation in many Northern communities, socially, economically and politically. But we cannot ignore the strong undercurrent of racism which we completely deplore.

It’s time for a new Northern agenda based on progressive forced working together. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is a cross-party voluntary association which is committed to social justice, extending democracy and a vibrant Northern economy. In particular:

  • We want to see a North which has much more responsibility for its own affairs, with democratic devolution – at the very least – along similar lines to that enjoyed in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London but taking grassroots power much further, to neighbourhood level
  • We remain committed to Europe and believe that ‘another Europe is possible’ – based on social justice, mutual respect, tolerance and sharing – and is achievable in or out of the EU. We will build stronger links with our sisters and brothers across Europe, with full support for a ‘Europe of the Regions’
  • We want to see a blossoming of Northern culture which is inclusive, vibrant and diverse
  • We want a Northern economy which is expanding, with an emphasis on green industries and an expansion of Northern-based research and development
  • We want to see an end to hatred and intolerance, for a North that is a great tolerant and welcoming place to live and work for everyone
  • We want to reach out to our sisters and brothers in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and other parts of England to develop a modern, progressive federal Britain
  • We want to see political parties, civil society, trades unions, faith groups working together to achieve this agenda and putting aside their differences to achieve real change. This includes the longer term aim of electoral reform and in the short-term a progressive alliance at the next General Election

Please sign up to our new discussion forum – Northern Network @NorthrnNetwork and follow us on facebook Northern Network

June 29th 2016

Jo Cox – we honour and celebrate her memory

Jo Cox, MP. – Statement from the Hannah Mitchell Foundation

Jo Cox was many things – an outstanding Member of Parliament for the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen, a much-loved local campaigner, a champion of the refugees displaced by wars, a great person to be with. She was also a member of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, the campaign for democratic devolution in the North of England. She shared our vision for the North, and for Britain and Europe, that was democratic, prosperous, multi-cultural, socially inclusive and egalitarian. She was convinced the vision could only be realized if Britain remained part of the European Union.

Because she worked tirelessly towards this vision, Jo Cox was assassinated. On June 16th, she was stabbed and gunned down in her constituency by a man associated with fascist organisations. Though he acted alone, and may have planned Jo’s murder alone, he was not in any simple sense a lone killer. All actions arise within particular contexts and these help shape and drive those actions forward. The context in which Jo’s killer acted was that of the Referendum debates and, particularly, the toxic, anti-foreigner, anti-EU Leave campaign. Its propaganda, whether it flowed from Farage and UKIP, from Johnson, Gove and others on the far right of the Conservative Party, or from the likes of the Sun and Daily Mail, provided a warped ideological legitimation for Jo’s assassination.

For everyone who seeks a better future for the North and for Britain, as Jo Cox did, the best and most immediate way to honour her life and work would be to vote Remain on June 23rd.

 

Jo Cox

jo coxWe mourn the tragic violent death of our treasured member Jo Cox. A brilliant MP and a lovely person. We are moved by the statement from her husband Brendan: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous. Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full”.

Corbyn and the Devolution Agenda

Hannah Mitchell Foundation is hosting an informal discussion on how the new Corbyn-led Labour Party could embrace a democratic devolution agenda. Following the launch of his ‘Northern Futures’ discussion there’s plenty of room for optimism! Please join us on Tuesday September 29th, between 6.00pm and 8.00pm, at The Albert pub, Huddersfield town centre (just opposite the central library). All welcome – and you can sign up as a member on the night!

HS3 should benefit all of The North

PRESS RELEASE

October 27th 09.00

To the news editor

PRESS RELEASE: (immediate)

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation has welcomed the report by Sir David Higgins on improved rail links across the North of England, with some major caveats.

Prof. Paul Salveson, secretary of the Foundation and a well-respected transport academic, said: “The proposed ‘HS3’ east-west high-speed line will be good for the North of England providing it is carried out in a way that gives maximum benefit to all of the North and not just the major cities. This has to be more than a pre-election gimmick and the project needs to involve all the relevant local authorities, not just the major cities. The lack of regional government for the North highlights the need for strategic governance of this project. The proposed ‘Transport for the North’ body is exactly the sort of agency we are saying should be democratically accountable.”

The Foundation stresses:

  • The route of the new high-speed line needs to take into account of the local communities and the environment, and minimise disruption. Using the former Woodhead line across the Pennines deserves serious consideration
  • There must be proper connectivity between the proposed HS2 high-speed line and the HS3 route, with direct links at Manchester and Leeds between the two networks
  • The high-speed line must be developed as part of an expanding Northern network which means a major improvement on the poor quality rolling stock passengers currently have to put up with. The North needs an  integrated, joined-up transport network; HS3 should not be an excuse for the Government to ignore the urgent need for the upgrade of existing services and other route re-openings e.g. Skipton-Colne
  • The construction phase should benefit Northern companies and it should be used to as a boost to high-tech manufacturing in the region by a firm commitment to ensure local companies are encouraged to compete for tenders for everything from infrastructure to rolling stock
  • A high-speed rail link should not be a distraction from the need to focus on an
  • Ultimately, however, the North’s transport needs are best considered by the people of the North. We should have the tax-raising powers to be able invest in our own transport and the ability to use our own assets to raise finance to fund the projects we need.

Ends

More: Paul Salveson 07795 008691

Leeds meeting debates Scotland and the North

September 8th 2015 15.15hrs

To the news editor

PRESS RELEASE: (immediate)

Scotland, the Referendum and the North: open meeting in Leeds

An open meeting is being held in Leeds on Thursday September 11th to discuss the impact of the Scottish referendum on the North of England. It starts at 7.30pm in The Civic Hall, Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR. Speakers are Prof. Paul Salveson Director, Hannah Mitchell Foundation www.hannahmitchell.org.uk Professor Jeffrey Henderson, and Dr Ying Ho of Leeds and University of Bristol

On 18th September, Scotland votes on whether to become independent. Scotland this summer is alive with civic debate on this momentous decision. Here in the North of England, the Hannah Mitchell Foundation has been formed to campaign for devolution in the North. The big question is:  What are the implications of a ‘yes’ vote for the North of England? The event in LEEDS will explore the issues and is open to everyone. There is no charge for admission.

Paul Salveson of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation said “We are delighted to be leading in this important debate. More and more people in the North of England recognise that we are being marginalised in British politics and we need some of the powers which Scotland, Wales and even London already have. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the North needs to get its act together and unite behind a vision of a new, dynamic and inclusive North which has friendly and mutually beneficial relationships with Scotland and the rest of the UK. We don’t want a few crumbs but strong, directly-elected regional government working with empowered local government which gives the North the leadership and direction it desperately needs”.

Barry Winter, chair of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation (and chair for Thursday’s meeting) said:  “Independence means the potential to move beyond the politics of austerity, neo-liberalism and empire. The prospect of having a radical neighbour trying new ways of doing politics is a very inspiring possibility for many of us in England.”

Ends/

For more information on above event ring Paul Salveson 07795 008691

Call for an ‘England of the Regions’

21.15 September 1st 2014: embargoed to 07.30 Tuesday September 2nd

PRESS RELEASE: (immediate)

Time for an ‘England of the Regions’

As the Scottish referendum approaches, the North of England lobby for devolution is calling for an ‘England of the regions’. Professor Paul Salveson, general secretary of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, publishes a paper today titled One Nation – Many Rivers which explores England’s radical traditions which could form the building blocks of a new, democratic English politics.

Barry Winter, chair of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, says: “Paul Salveson calls for a genuine devolution of power to England’s regions in line with the changes taking place in both Scotland and Wales. His argument could not be more relevant in these fluid times. He recognises we have an opportunity to break with our over-centralised system and with the political cynicism it encourages. An England of the regions, he argues, drawing on our democratic traditions, should ensure that power is then widely dispersed. This is a message of hope in the possibility of positive change for a better future.”

The paper was strongly influenced by Jon Cruddas’s George Lansbury Memorial Lecture presented by the London Labour MP to an audience at the London School of Economics last year. Lansbury was a leading figure on the left of the Labour Party in the inter-war years, and Cruddas draws inspiration from Lansbury’s democratic socialist beliefs.

Paul Salveson said “many of Cruddas’s ideas, whilst based on an important political activist of the past, are highly relevant for us today. In particular, his arguments for an open and inclusive left which is willing to ‘give power away’ is incredibly important in the context of growing interest in devolution with England”.

The paper argues that the way forward for a modern left-of-centre English politics is to embrace real political devolution and build new alliances between different parts of the centre-left. Salveson says:

“I’ve written this as an English Labour political activist, stressing a specifically English radical tradition that we need to re-energise, based on progressive regionalism. Strong radical movements in Scotland and Wales can only help propel that forward. The campaign for ‘radical independence’ in Scotland has been at the forefront of creating a new radical politics. A new English politics is about moving away from the spurious ‘unity’ of Great Britain which only served to hide the reality of English – or more accurately London – domination. The future must be a federation of free nations and – within England itself – regions.”

The paper is available HERE: http://www.hannahmitchell.org.uk/2014/08/31/one-nation-many-rivers/

More information: Paul Salveson on 07795 008691

Power to the North – new call from academics

12.00 August 25th 2014

To the news editor

PRESS RELEASE: (immediate)

New call for power to the North

Two respected academics have called for substantial power to be devolved a directly elected Northern Parliament, as part of a new ‘Federal Britain’.

Professor Jeffrey Henderson and Dr Suet Ying Ho are members of the pro-devolution Hannah Mitchell Foundation and are based in Leeds and Bristol (see notes for editors).

They make a strong case for a major re-structuring of the British state with major powers devolved to the English regions alongside Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They argue that:

Other than Japan, Britain has probably the most centralised state system of any major country in the world. With this has come the concentration of economic, political and cultural power in a single city: London. To develop the vision and political will needed to rejuvenate the North and Britain’s other regions and nations, we consequently cannot rely on Westminster. The people of the North have to take political responsibility for our own communities”.  (see below for more detailed extracts)

They are critical of the piecemeal approach which has so far been adopted by the Coalition Government and the limited vision of Labour’s proposals for devolution. They say:

While the city-region and related initiatives are useful steps forward, after decades of neglect of the North and elsewhere, they are insufficient to the now considerable task of economic transformation. They are so, because they ultimately exist at the behest of central government.”

Henderson and Ho make a powerful case for a major political, as well as economic, re-structuring of the UK, with a written constitution that would entrench new powers for the English regions and nations of the UK:

To develop prosperous, egalitarian economies, the North and similar English regions, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, need maximum devolution. We need, in other words, the re-formation of the entire British state. And in order to prevent reversal by future central governments, it will need to be a re-formation enshrined in a written constitution.”

The paper has been welcomed by Professor Paul Salveson, general secretary of Hannah Mitchell Foundation. “Jeff and Ying have challenged much of the accepted wisdom in both the Coalition parties and Labour, making a powerful case for much greater power being devolved to the North as well as other English regions within a re-structured Federal Britain. It’s immensely exciting and should be read by politicians of all persuasions.”

His views were echoed by Linda Riordan, the Foundation’s president. “It’s time we had some fresh, radical thinking about the way forward for the North of England. Whilst all eyes are on Scotland and the referendum, whatever the outcome the case for the North getting its own powers will become even stronger.”

The paper is the first in a series of ‘Essays for a new North’ to be published by the campaign in the run-up to the Scottish referendum and after.

The full paper is available HERE:

http://www.hannahmitchell.org.uk/2014/08/23/for-the-north-and-a-federal-britain/

Enquiries: Paul Salveson 07795 008691; Jeff Henderson can be emailed at: Jeffrey.henderson@bristol.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Jeffrey Henderson is Professor of International Development and Suet Ying Ho is a Visiting Fellow in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Among earlier appointments, Jeffrey Henderson was a Professor at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester and Suet Ying Ho was a Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Liverpool and at Leeds Metropolitan University. They now divide their time between Bristol and Leeds and are both Members of the Steering Committee of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation.

Extracts from the paper

“While we continue to wait for the beneficial effects of the economic crumbs that fall from London’s table, we suffer the consequences of the continuing decline of the North’s manufacturing industries, its technological, entrepreneurial and skill bases; and with these, its long-term prosperity”.

“Had there been a regional governance system with explicit commitments to strategic economic planning, it could have helped check and reverse the processes of deindustrialisation that have destroyed communities and delivered many of the social problems we confront today. While economic planning is essential to the possibilities of economic rejuvenation in the North and other dispossessed regions and nations, current governance arrangements do not augur well for its prospects for success”.

“The recent Adonis report on regional economic development is at least as important for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. While Adonis and his colleagues are interested in extending and strengthening the current regional institutional apparatus – particularly Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities– as vehicles for driving economic rejuvenation, their proposals are hardly radical. Given the deep structural problems that confront the political economies of the North, the Midlands and in varying degrees, many other parts of Britain, the report’s recommendations will be insufficient to pull the rejuvenation trick (and sustain development from then onwards)”.

“The report does not acknowledge that under its proposals, local economic development will continue to rely largely on funding controlled by central government. This is because even the entire local business levy (which the report proposes to make available for development purposes) is unlikely to generate the level of funding necessary given the enormity of the economic problems that confront some of the regions. Power, in other words, would fundamentally remain with central government”.

“Other than Japan, Britain has probably the most centralised state system of any major country in the world. With this has come the concentration of economic, political and cultural power in a single city: London. To develop the vision and political will needed to rejuvenate the North and Britain’s other regions and nations, we consequently cannot rely on Westminster. The people of the North have to take political responsibility for our own back yards.  While the city-region and related initiatives are useful steps forward, after decades of neglect of the North and elsewhere, they are insufficient to the now considerable task of economic transformation. They are so, because they ultimately exist at the behest of central government.”

As with Scotland, to develop prosperous, egalitarian economies, the North and similar English regions, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, need maximum devolution. We need, in other words, the re-formation of the entire British state. And in order to prevent reversals by future central governments, it will need to be a re-formation enshrined in a written constitution.”

“Transformation will require a state capable of working with businesses, trade unions and communities to become a collective industrial entrepreneur. Allied with regional development banks supplying ‘venture capital’, it will need to be a state able to raise its own finance and develop the democratic legitimacy, intellectual capacity and political will to engage in strategic economic planning. Short of a sovereign state, only a regional state that is part of a Federal system (as with the German länder or US or Canadian states) is able to develop those types of attributes and functions. This is why the people of the North, and the British people in general, need – and deserve – such a Federal state”.

Will the North get German quality rail services?

August 20th 09.30

Foreign state-owned groups do well in Northern rail franchise shortlists

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation, the campaign for northern regional government, says that the short-listed bidders for the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises should work with the communities of the North of England to make sure we get a rail service that compares well with Germany, France and The Netherlands – where most of the bidders are based. “It’s ironic that – especially with Northern – the short-listed bidders are almost entirely foreign state-owned railways,” said Foundation secretary Paul Salveson. “Lets hope that we get a Northern railway system which bears comparison with the excellent servcies enjoyed in Germany, the Netherlands and France”.

The Foundation has called for a new approach to how our railways are run, with a directly-elected Northern assembly supervising a well-resourced executive team which would manage a publicly-owned rail network – Northern Railways – bringing the two franchises together. “It’s not right that the future of our rail network in the North will be decided primarily by civil servants in London,” said HMF chair Barry Winter. “An incoming Labour government in 2015 needs to make sure that when the franchises start in February 2016 that the North sees the beginning of a transformation in our rail services, not more of the same,” he added.

“A key issue will be rolling stock: the North has made do with life-expired trains which need shunting into the scrapyard sidings,” said Paul. “New rolling stock should be built here in the North, instead of exporting jobs to foreign manufacturing bases,” he added.

The shortlisted bidders to run the 2 franchises are:

  • Northern:
    • Abellio Northern Ltd (Dutch)
    • Arriva Rail North Limited  (German)
    • Govia Northern Limited (35% French)
  • TransPennine Express:
    • First Trans Pennine Express Limited
    • Keolis Go-Ahead Limited (French)
    • Stagecoach Trans Pennine Express Trains Limited

North needs a rail revolution

18.00h August 15th 2014

To the news editor

PRESS RELEASE: (immediate)

The North needs a rail revolution, not mean-minded ‘trade-offs’

The Hannah Mitchell Foundation – a campaign and think tank supporting Northern regional government, has sent a strongly-worded response to the Government’s consultation on the future Northern and TransPennine Express franchises which start in February 2016. It has called on Ed Miliband and his transport shadow secretary Mary Creagh to commit an incoming Labour Government to major changes to the franchise if the Government persists with a cuts agenda. It wants a new fleet of trains to replace the unloved and life-expired ‘Pacers’ – and for the trains to be built in the North.

“The Government consultation talks a lot about ‘trade-offs’ between investment and cuts to on-train staff and booking offices. We completely reject that and want to see the growth we’ve seen on rail over the last 10 years encouraged more, not choked off” said Foundation chair Barry Winter. “Stations should be centres of activity, with even small stations acting as community hubs with small shops and space for community groups.”

The Foundation stresses the importance of new rolling stock for the increasingly over-crowded rail services across the North. “Many of the trains that are running around the North are well past their sell-by date,” said Foundation secretary Professor Paul Salveson. “We need a new generation of diesel as well as electric trains to replace the old ‘Pacer’ and ‘Sprinter’ trains. And crucially, these new trains should be built in the North of England, the home of railways, not in Germany or France.”

“It must be a ‘growth’ franchise, not the ‘steady state’ approach which has served the North so badly since 2005,” said Barry. “We want to see an expanding network with re-openings across the North, including Skipton – Colne, a new line to Skelmersdale, the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne network and York to Hull via Market Weighton. Routes such as Calder Valley desperately need electrification and a Bradford cross-rail would help transform the West Yorkshire rail network, as part of a wider strategy lining regional rail with the proposed ‘HS3’ route across the Pennines.”

The Foundation rejects the current franchising system which will see ‘the usual suspects’ of major private companies and foreign-state owned railways bidding. “We have seen enough profit exported from our under-funded railways to private shareholders or foreign state-owned railways,” argued Paul Salveson. “Our railways in the North should be accountable to people in the North, run by a not-for-profit company which involves employees and passengers and re-invests any surplus back into the railway”.

The Foundation supports union efforts to keep staff on trains. “Having a conductor on trains isn’t just about collecting revenue and opening and shutting doors, it’s about having a visible presence to help and assist passengers and provide a sense of security – as well as vital support in the case of emergencies. We want to see trains that are properly staffed with a stronger focus on passengers and their needs”, said Professor Salveson, himself a former railway guard who became a senior manager with Northern Rail.

HMF suggests that the consortium of 30 local authorities called Rail North, – “very much a ‘junior partner’ in the partnership with the Government which is letting the new franchises”, should be strengthened and given full responsibility – and the funding to go with it – to manage and develop the rail network. Ultimately, Rail North should be accountable to a directly-elected assembly for the North as a whole, ensuring real accountability and a fully joined-up approach to transport and wider development.”

The Foundation wants to see transport integration taken much more seriously, with improved bus links and safe cycling and walking routes to stations. Trains should have more space for bikes and luggage, with the option of safe cycle storage at stations.

The franchises do not start until February 2016. “There is every possibility of Labour sweeping to power in May 2015, said Barry. “It would be absurd for an incoming Labour Government to preside over a new Northern franchise which fails to meet the needs of passengers, staff and the wider community,” he stressed. Ed Miliband and his transport shadow secretary Mary Creagh would win huge support if they committed a Labour Government to major changes to the Northern franchise proposition, putting the needs of people and not profit first.”

The full response is here: http://www.hannahmitchell.org.uk/2014/08/15/railways-a-better-network-for-the-north-accountable-to-the-north/

More information: Paul Salveson 07795 008691