Labour: Momentum building across the North?

Even though successive Jeremy Corbyn rallies attracted thousands of people in both Hull and Liverpool, the consensus amongst political journalists and commentators is that a Corbyn-led Labour party is unlikely to be in power. But when taking a closer look, the Labour Party is still the strongest decision-maker in Northern England, where they hold control of many key authorities including Sheffield, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester and Liverpool. It is also worth remembering that the Labour Party currently has around 600,000 members nationwide, with 100,000 joining since the attempted coup against Corbyn began, whilst in comparison, the Conservative Party has around only 150,000 members in total.

If Corbyn does retain the party leadership, this could mean local parties begin to look very different. There have already been stories that incumbent MPs who have been less than supportive may face deselection in the future, and council groups could be similarly transformed. Could this affect the business and development approach for many Northern local authorities going forward? For example, under Sir Richard Leese, Manchester is one of the most business-friendly cities in the country, but a victory for Jeremy Corbyn and his Momentum campaign group could mean a raft of new, less business-friendly council candidates being selected and therefore, changes in political priorities could be envisioned.

From a development perspective, engagement with councillors is vital in the planning process but such engagement could be hampered by a less business-friendly outlook from the left wing of the Labour Party. It’s even possible that more business-centric incumbents could be at odds with new members, therefore emphasising the importance of careful political engagement.

Regardless, Labour is still the political powerhouse in the North of England, and although the Conservatives hold the power in Whitehall, devolution will ensure that more power is in the hands of mayors and council leaders. This means that come what may with the party leadership, Labour will be even more influential for Northern developers and investors alike. Just what the effects will be remain to be seen.

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