North East England is a special region of the United Kingdom. It is an area of great history and staggering natural beauty. From the mighty spires of Durham Cathedral, to the beautiful Northumbrian coastline and awe of High Force Waterfall, there is so much to admire and be proud of. This land boasts a working class heritage of realism, humility and sincerity. Built upon the bedrock of industry, the livelihoods of our forefathers were fought for through the toil and sweat of mines, shipyards and steelworks. They came from areas far afield for the subsistence of work and sheer survival. This is who we are, what we represent and where we came from.
Yet not all is well, and it has not been well for a longtime now. We are a region of Britain without purpose, cause and direction. For the space of two generations, we have suffered. The dismantling of our industries in favour of London-centric financial dominated Neoliberalism in the 1980s and 90s dealt a hammer blow to our world of which we have not yet recovered from, entrapping the region in a vicious cycle of poverty, deprivation and social decline. A cloud of pessimism and cynicism has continually darkened the skies of the North East, leading to a continually downbeat and negative culture in many communities.
Little has been done to address these injustices. The North East continues to lag far behind London and the surrounding regions in terms of average incomes, employment, economic growth, investment and political importance. The turmoil of Westminster politics and their London-centric world has been the road of these problems. The fiasco of Brexit poses yet again another economic catastrophe for the region. Whilst politicians have sought to bait the political disillusionment and apathy of the North East in gauging support for right wing nationalism, this is not done out of empathy or sympathy, but opportunity.
This builds into a broader historical pattern. For all our pride, the North East of England has been a region that has been subject to economic and political exploitation: the bottom of a hierarchy of which serves the gratification of the country’s ruling class. Our existence right now is that of an appendage, tool and means to an end. Far from the center, never have we truly mattered. If there is a price to pay, we have been hastily thrown onto the sacrificial altar. The cost of industries, livelihoods and jobs were worth paying for the empowerment of bankers, and yet again in the view of severing Britain from the European Union. There is no incentive to change the status quo of a poor, isolated and estranged North East.
On the recognition of such a reality, if the people of the North East truly aspire to a great change in their lives and fortunes, then they must strive to establish their own voice in the world and resist their subordination to the London centric politico-economic order. There must be change, and that change cannot be achieved by doing the things which have been tried, tested and failed. A game that has been rigged cannot be won. Therefore, one must forcibly change the game. We must secure our own path and future.
In this case, the people of the region must unite themselves under a new identity, political consciousness and a coherent set of goals. Do we aspire to overcome the challenges and backwardness that have been inflicted upon our region from London? Do we aspire to rebrand ourselves and market our name as a region and people to the wider world? As a different take on “Britain” to the lights, luxuries and fanciness of London? Do we aspire to vindicate the values of our Industrial forefathers and to salvage our heritage from being lost and confined to history? Do we aspire to believe in who we are.
It’s time for the North East to Rise Again. The shackles of subordination must come to an end.