Q&A: The Northern Independence Party on their mission for a nation of Northumbria
The Northern Independence Party want a referendum on Northern independence
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The Northern Independence Party are a group campaigning for the North of England to become an independent country under the name of Northumbria.
The group, which was formed in 2020, has gained a sizeable following in recent years and now has nearly 60,000 followers on Twitter.
NewcastleWorld spoke to Deputy Leader of the NIP, David Heaven, about the party.
The NIP was formed in 2020. What led to its creation?
We thought it was about time our Northern communities had a strong voice in politics. We were fed up with this part of the country being overlooked by successive governments, and after seeing the treatment of Manchester and other Northern cities during the lockdown we decided that if the Westminster parties were not going to represent the interests of the North, we should build a party that would. So the Northern Independence Party was formed to present an alternative vision for our region, and fight for a freer, fairer North.
Can you tell us a bit more about the people behind the NIP?
The people behind the party have always been a group of Northerners who believe a better future for the North is possible. The original idea for the NIP came from our leader, Philip Proudfoot. But what started as a WhatsApp group and a Twitter account grew within a few months to thousands of members who voted on our party constitution and first manifesto in early 2021, and we were registered with the electoral commission by April. Less than a year later we’ve elected an NEC, and we now have a team of over a hundred volunteers who run everything from the press office to policy & research.
Why do you think an independent North would be a good thing?
Under Westminster, wealth and power will always be concentrated around London. The North is a resource-rich region, perfectly positioned to lead the transition to a green economy, but we’re suffering from decades of under-investment and exploitation by a system that funnels resources to the south. We can see the effects of this all across the North: we have fewer job prospects, lower wages, and even lower life expectancy. We can’t expect the corrupt politicians in Westminster to address this disparity, it can only be fixed by giving the people of the North real democratic control over how their communities are governed, and how resources are invested.
What makes you think it would be a realistic thing to achieve?
The north-south divide is only growing larger, and the government’s pathetic ‘levelling up’ plans offer very little to address poverty and poor health in our region. We believe, given the opportunity to be free from the corruption and waste of Westminster, the North could thrive. The last 20 years have seen a real resurgence in the Scottish and Welsh independence movements, as more people understand that Westminster is not fit for purpose. Ultimately, we think independence should be decided by a referendum. But as we saw in the 2004 referendum for devolution in North East England, people aren’t interested in just adding another layer of politicians who will tinker around the edges of the current system. They want the kind of real, systemic change that can only come from a free, independent North.
What does the immediate future hold for the party?
We’re continuing to bring in new members every day, and we’ll be standing candidates across the North in the local elections this May, and the general election in 2024. We want the people of the North to have a real choice at the next election, not just between three London-centric, right-wing parties. We’re giving people the option of a party that will invest in skills, infrastructure and a green revival for the North.
What has been the public response to the party since its inception? Have you faced much opposition?
We had a fair bit of opposition at first, mostly from political pundits - the Times once called us a ‘glorified joke’ because we have a sense of humour and they don’t - but for every mocking article in the London press, we see a surge in membership. We’re the only party offering real, meaningful change for Northern communities. A lot of people recognise the inherent unfairness built into the current system, and they’re starting to realise it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re attracting people from all walks of life, from all sorts of political backgrounds, with the simple message that the people of the North deserve a better deal.