Photo credit: Author- Proudfop12. Wikimedia Commons.
A new party has been making a name for itself on social media in recent weeks.“Why the hell don’t we have our own party!” the question friends started asking Luke Blaylock from the newly formed Northern Independence Party.
The democratic socialist party hopes for an independent north from Northumberland all the way down to Salford. They use the Northumbrian flag as the last time there was an independent north was during the Kingdom of Northumbria in the Middle Ages.
Andy Burnham’s passionate speech in October about the Government’s attitude towards Greater Manchester was the kickstart they needed to fire them into action.
Phillip Proudfoot (who is the interim co-leader of the party and a social anthropologist of the Middle East) then set up the account looking to see whether it was an idea people would be interested in.
“It all started off as shitposting and memes” says Luke Blaylock, who was one of the first to get involved in the new party.
“So many people were calling for it, why don’t we have a party for northern independence?”
At that point they floated a document online to assess support and managed to gain hundreds of signatures.
“The next thing you know we organised a zoom meeting between the first lot of volunteers, and we ended up creating a political party, we just launched a membership system last week.
The website is up and running… It’s starting to come together!”
Luke began asking himself the “northern question” around the time of the 2014 Scottish referendum.
However, he acknowledges “for a lot of people it’s taken Covid to realise actually this north/south divide is quite stark now.
It’s something I’ve been aware of my whole life, and it turns out loads of other people have felt the same!”
Luke currently lives in Manchester but is originally from Durham near Newcastle.
“Scousers and people from the North East, have a different experience of England. Liverpool has strong ties to Ireland, we have that in Newcastle but also to Scotland since we are a border land”.
But how to get the rest of the north on board?
“COVID is going to be a multiplier on things that were going to happen eventually. Economic collapse and the (potential) collapse of the Union. Brexit and COVID will potentially accelerate that”.
With Scottish Independence being a continuous thorn in the side of the Union throughout 2020, the success of Plaid Cymru, and growing support for the unification of Ireland it seems entirely plausible that we may see an independent England once again in our lifetimes.
“Once England is on its own for the first time in a very long time. The English are going to have to question what the hell is England? Because we haven’t had one since the 1700s.
One of the things especially I’m keen to push forward the party should be offering the one we can’t and need and we won’t get in the union.
That means running our own affairs. Localism and regionalism”.