Meet the the Northern Independence Party: We're planning on taking all of Labour's seats in the North
Federalisation, democratic socialism, Labour seats, and an independent north: these are just some of the things the Northern Independence Party have their sights set on
Starting as a bit of a meme on social media in October 2020, the Northern Independence Party (NIP) have seen their popularity sky-rocket this year.
A driving inspiration of NIP was the success of the Scottish National Party (SNP) across the border in Scotland; however, NIP say their independence is rooted in regionalism and localism rather than nationalism.
Its founder, Philip Proudfood, is an anthropology lecturer and former Labour Party activist, and has said in the past: “Considering how much poverty is here and how bad our infrastructure is, it would make more sense to shift a lot more money to the North but they will never do that because it breaks the Westminster model where they filter our people, ideas and money to the capital."
JOE spoke with Luke Blaylock from Durham, an NIP press officer, about his party’s vision.
“We've always felt like there's been a bit of contempt shown to us from Westminster,” he said, saying it grew during the government's handling of the pandemic.
“A lot of people were angry, but at the same time, you also had a lot of shit-posting and memes on Twitter - about Andy Burnham, 'King in the North'.
“A lot of people retweeted in “Free the North" banners, so in response to that, Philip Proudfoot founded a Twitter account called 'The Northern Independence Party.'"
The party has gone from strength to strength - registering as an official political party in February 2020, with plans to field their first candidate in the Hartlepool by-election in May.
And, while their manifesto is yet to be released, Blaylock gave some insight into where the party stands politically, which includes more public spending, nationalisation, federalisation, and democratic socialism.
? DEMAND: Independence for the North
? REJECT: The Westminster elite
? SUPPORT: Democratic Socialism
? OPPOSE: All Racism & Anti-Refugee Rhetoric
? BUILD: On our traditions of solidarity
? AND LOVE: The North!
— Northern Independence Party ?? (@FreeNorthNow) March 19, 2021
And Blaylock said NIP have their sights set on Labour seats.
“We perceive Labour sort of the finished project now," he said.
“They had the chance under Corbyn but missed the opportunity, so we're planning on taking all of Labour's seats at some point.”
Adding: “We could well split the vote in cause in the short term, we could end up cause causing more seats to turn Tory by taking Labour votes, but in reality in the long term, Labour were going to lose anyway.”
And he said that Labour members, and politicians, were already flocking to the party.
“We can't make any announcements soon because we're already in talks, but we are talking to people from Labour who are planning on defecting."
They have already bagged themselves a former Labour MP, Thelma Walker, who defected to NIP in March 2021.
It was announced today that she is in the running to be the party's candidate in the Hartlepool by-election.
? BREAKING – CANDIDATES FOR HARTLEPOOL
?? This Sunday, NIP Members will select between three potential candidates for the coming By-Election.
Those candidates are:
? James Crow
? John Pendergast
? Thelma Walker#FreeTheNorth
— Northern Independence Party ?? (@FreeNorthNow) March 26, 2021
Disillusionment with Labour seems to be a key driver of NIP’s politics.
"I voted for Labour twice; it's the party of my old man, my family has North East miners,” he said.
“They were part of the Labour movement, Labour was their party.”
But he says the party no longer appeals to that demographic.
Blaylock also said NIP sought to change the narratives perpetuated about the North.
“This is another reason why it's so important for us to have created this party and to change the narrative, because a lot of old school working class - or you know, the white working class, I hate that term, because it doesn't really exist - was sort of seen as this bigoted on immigration and on multiculturalism," he said.
"That is partly to do with disillusion and anger, because infrastructure, and in the economy, is absolutely appalling in large parts of the North.
“But it's also to do with the far-right narrative that comes out of the media - so if people aren't going to counter that, then it's up to us sort of step in and say: 'well, actually it's not migrants, and it's not black people in London who destroyed the industries and left your towns to rot: that was the Tories.
"'That was British interests in Westminster, so it's up to us.'”
On his assessment of Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson, Bylock said both were inadequate in different ways.
On Starmer, he said: “Whether it's he's a bit of an empty shell, and it's under the centrist label that he's been allowed to sort of take the party back over.
“Right now [he’s] being outflanked on the left on economic issues by the Tories - at a time when, you know, we're going to be faced with the fallout from COVID, it's going to be huge.
“And it's going to hit places like the North the worst.
“We don't really know what the hell Labour actually want.”
On Johnson, he said: “It’s insulting, and quite patronising, that they would say that we need “level-up” when we know for a fact it's because of the Tories that we need to level up in the first place.
“It’s just pure opportunity, pure opportunity, and the North will realise like they have in the past," he said.
"They'll take a gamble on the Tories, because they always say they're going to do this, and they go do that - when they say that this hasn't actually happened.
"The North will turn but, obviously, if Labour aren't going to be a proper opposition, and going to defend the working class, then it's up to another party."