Map of England credit: Google Maps

Novara Media: A new voice for the North of England?

By Alexandra Agar

A look into the surprising, and overdue, development of Novara media in their creation of a North of England editor.

Novara Media – an independent media outlet based in London – has recently created the position of North of England editor. What is perhaps surprising is that the news outlet has only now created this position, despite seeking to emulate a radical style of left-wing journalism for over 10 years. In an article written by the outlet announcing the newly founded position, they described how the purpose of this role was to “find stories [in the north of England] and connect them to important questions for the left: how injustices occur, how solidarity is built, how Britain’s de-industrial divide steers our politics”.

For a newspaper that regularly publishes articles aiming to highlight injustices committed by governments and state actors, perhaps Novara’s failure to establish this role sooner is just another example of a southern tendency to ignore the north of England. However, as this is a failure of the south that Novara has previously ardently criticised, perhaps calling it negligence isn’t entirely fair.

The post-industrial divide in the UK has been characterised by some political commentators as the ‘red wall’ – a term referring to counties in the Midlands and North of England which traditionally elected Labour MPs, as opposed to counties in the South, that have historically tended to vote Conservative. The significance of this are the ties between Northern counties and their working-class populations, and the impact of deindustrialisation on their previously strong ties to trade unions and, by extension, the Labour party. During the Industrial Revolution, when the coal industry was largely concentrated in the north, these counties became home to working-class families who were employed by the factories. As a result, the Labour party, which aimed to represent the interests of working-class people, enjoyed increased popularity even into the 1980s as traditional hard industries collapsed under Thatcher’s premiership.

In the aftermath of de-industrialisation, persistently lower life-expectancy and a lack of central government funding for working-class communities in the North meant these communities largely continued to vote Labour until the 2019 general election. This is significant for political reporters, such as those at Novara Media, as the history of industrialisation in the north has influenced its politics for decades.  The Miners Strike that lasted from 1984-1985 is a clear example of what Novara sees as vital in understanding  “how injustices occur [and] how solidarity is built”. As a movement that was a product of de-industrialisation, spearheaded by working-class miners opposing the Thatcher government, still today it impacts British politics, and therefore holds great significance in determining the reporting of Novara Media. The legacy of this working-class history changed significantly in 2019, where many so-called ‘red wall’ constituencies elected Conservative MPs for the first time.

Understanding the north of England, deindustrialisation and the influence of working-class people is vital in understanding the politics of England. For Novara Media, a news outlet which purports to challenge the status-quo, having a North of England editor makes complete sense. How Novara Media got this far in left-wing politics without such a commitment to the North is hard to say, but this decision is nevertheless a turn in the right direction for left-wing journalism.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments