Monday, 12 December 2016

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Although the claim leaves some of us wondering where our buses have gone, the power of rural areas is said to be rising.

Jolly good.

Far from being an atavistically urban phenomenon, Labour's earliest heartlands – in the 1920s, when it first became possible to speak of safe Labour seats – were very largely county divisions.

Those were in the Welsh Valleys, in Nottinghamshire, in Derbyshire, in the West Riding, and here in County Durham.

By contrast, Labour failed to hold a single seat in Manchester or Sheffield at the 1931 Election.

I am open to correction, but I think that Labour never had an MP in Birmingham until 1945.

I am practically certain that Liverpool never returned a Labour MP until 1945, either.

There are other such examples.

Inroads into urban areas were often, as here in the North East, on the back of existing strength in the surrounding countryside.

Newcastle City Council has been controlled by all three main parties at various times since the War.

Newcastle Central was a Conservative seat again from 1983 to 1987, and only that party or its National Liberal satellite ever held Newcastle North until 1983.

But there is none of that in County Durham, or in the south-east corner of Northumberland.

Similarly, Nick Clegg sits for the only non-Labour seat in the whole of South Yorkshire, a seat that has never returned a Labour MP.

It is in Sheffield. Of course.

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