Linda’s the new voice of northern devolution

HALIFAX MP, Linda Riordan is heading up a think tank promoting a devolved government for the North of England.

The Labour politician has been appointed president of The Hannah Mitchell Foundation - which held its first meeting in Huddersfield last Friday.

“I am delighted to be involved in this exciting new venture,” she said.

“At a time when the future of the United Kingdom is coming under increasing scrutiny, the North needs its own devolved government within the UK, otherwise we risk being part of an increasingly centralised, Tory-dominated, England.”

Barry Winter, a retired Politics lecturer from Leeds, was elected chair of the Foundation. “A key priority is to influence thinking within the Labour Party,” said Barry. “At a time when any vestige of regional government has been abolished by the Coalition, we need to make the case for regional devolution on economic as well as democratic grounds.”

They have set out their aims to stimulate debate throughout the North of England on the most effective and appropriate forms of devolution.

Alongside the president and chair, vice-chairs were elected from the North West, North East and Yorkshire.

Professor Paul Salveson, a consultant, was appointed General Secretary to oversee the development of the Foundation.

He said: “That would benefit England and the UK as a whole.

“The alternative is to see a growing economic divide between North and South.”

The Foundation is named in honour of Hannah Mitchell, a Northern grassroots activist in the early socialist movement who was a Labour councillor in Manchester.

Mrs Riordan said: “She was a great working class socialist and passionate advocate of women’s suffrage.

“She epitomises all that was best in the North of England’s radical traditions – who better to name the Foundation after?”

Members of the foundation have high hopes for what the foundation can achieve - particularly with a former deputy prime minister onboard.

Mr Winter said: “We hope the Foundation will make a real impact on English politics. We’ve already got strong backing from several MPs and John Prescott has agreed to be a patron.

“Our next step is to organise a launch event in Bradford in early March.”