Corbyn’s bid to attract support in Northern heartlands with launch of new Labour group

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn hopes to attract more support in the North of England's Labour heartlands.
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn hopes to attract more support in the North of England's Labour heartlands.

Jeremy Corbyn will seek the support of voters in the North of England as he helps launch a new Labour group devoted to pushing regeneration projects in the party’s traditional heartlands.

The leadership frontrunner will dismiss Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to create a “Northern Powerhouse” as “little more than southern hot air”.

And the Islington North MP will suggest his policies would be shaped by a Northern Futures body being formed by five MPs backing his campaign.

It comes as rival Andy Burnham prepares to spend the bank holiday weekend touring northern cities with a pledge to win back more than a million voters lost to Ukip at the general election in May.

The shadow health secretary, who has sought to exploit his northern heritage as a vote winner, will concede the party was guilty of “avoiding” difficult issues such as the impact of immigration.

Extra EU funds for areas that face most pressure from new arrivals will be among his proposed responses to a report commissioned from MP Dan Jarvis about the failure to take on Ukip.

Mr Corbyn said: “For too long talk of northern regeneration has been little more than southern hot air.

“I am delighted that our astonishing campaign this summer has given birth to Northern Futures, an organisation which will put forward policy ideas to rebalance the economy more fairly in favour of the North.

“It’s a great example of the pattern of democratic process of consultation we will pursue if we win the leadership race.”

The Northern Futures group is being spearheaded by Jon Trickett, the MP for Hemsworth, who said half of England had been “left out” because of years of under-investment.

Speaking about the 1,400 people who responded to the consultation, he said: “Nobody asked for a hand out, but people here want investment and they want to know that our voices will be heard.

“That’s why we are launching Northern Futures and it will be the organisation that stands up for issues that matter to people in the North of England who are too often forgotten inside the Westminster bubble.”

In his report, Mr Jarvis said Labour had been “in denial for too long” about the threat of Ukip and was “in danger of becoming irrelevant” after falling to third place in some constituencies.

The party was “yet to develop an effective counter attack” to the eurosceptic advance which saw it shed crucial support across a swathe of seats in its traditional northern heartlands.

On immigration, Mr Burnham said: “For too long, Labour campaigners have been avoiding people’s eyes when this subject comes up on the doorstep.

“We need to respond to people’s legitimate concerns about the challenges that EU migration creates in some of our poorest communities.”

Other MPs supporting Northern Futures are Rebecca Long Bailey (Salford & Eccles), Richard Burgon, (Leeds East), Cat Smith (Lancaster & Fleetwood) and Grahame Morris (Easington).