Analysis Breaking News

Huge breaking news: Labour to move ‘centre of political decision-making’ to north

McDonnell’s announcement signals major shift in UK’s political centre of gravity under a Labour government – and a direct promise to northern towns that they will no longer be ignored

John McDonnell

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will use his first major speech of the general election campaign to promise an “irreversible shift in the centre of gravity in political decision making and investment” from London to the North.

McDonnell will pledge an additional £150 billion in a new Social Transformation Fund, to be spent over the first five years of a Labour government.

In a speech in his home city of Liverpool, McDonnell will say that the fund will be used to “upgrade and expand our schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses”. He will also promise that a “powerful section of the Treasury” will be based in the north of England.

McDonnell will say that a National Transformation Fund unit of the Treasury will be launched to deliver the plan, ensuring that key decisions about investment in the north are made in the north:

Our aim as a Labour government is to achieve what past Labour governments have aspired to. An irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people. That means change means investment on a scale never seen before in this country and certainly never seen before in the North and outside of London and the South East.

To achieve that objective also requires therefore an irreversible shift in the centre of gravity in political decision making and investment in this country from its location solely in London into the North and regions and nations of our country.

McDonnell will make clear that a National Transformation Unit of the North will ensure the regions gets their fair share of investment:

On the scale of change investment needed I can tell you today that Labour’s National Transformation Fund will be bigger than we promised at the 2017 election. For areas that haven’t had their fair share for years, we’ll deliver £250 billion of investment here and around the country over the next ten years through our Green Transformation Fund.

Upgrading our energy, transport and other networks. To meet our targets and decarbonise as thoroughly and fast as our commitment to a just transition will allow. But it’s not just the natural world that’s been neglected. So we’ll also commit to an additional £100 billion in a new Social Transformation Fund.

Spent over the first five years of our Labour government, the Social Transformation Fund will begin the urgent task of repairing our social fabric that the Tories have torn apart. A hundred billion pounds to replace, upgrade and expand our schools, hospitals, care homes and council houses. To deal with the human emergency which the Tories have created, alongside the climate emergency.”

McDonnell will also set out how Labour plans to break up the Treasury and devolve some of its powers from London to the north:

But it’s not just about spending more. It’s about how it’s spent. With decision-making devolved down to local communities.

So we’ll carve out part of our National Transformation Fund for a Local Transformation Fund in each of England’s regions. With money for the devolved governments as well of course. And that money will be ring-fenced for infrastructure projects decided and developed at a local level. With decisions made transparently and democratically in each region about how their fund is allocated. And regional offices of government departments overseen by a board of local county and city council leaders with that board publicly accountable to open meetings of local councillors, trade unions and business representatives. They will be supported by a National Transformation Fund unit of the Treasury.

I can confirm that this powerful section of the Treasury Unit will be based here in the North. At the same time my Treasury ministerial meetings will no longer be solely in London.

Labour’s Treasury ministers will meet outside of London and will have a ministerial office in the North. The centre of gravity of political gravity is shifting away from London:

This is where the investment is needed and this is where those decisions on investment need to be made on the ground. Power is coming home. Back to the people. We can only deliver the real change we need by putting power into the hands of communities Of the people who know their local area best, like those who came up with the tidal barrage idea for the Mersey, which we’ll build.

It won’t just be public investment, of course. We can’t do it if the private finance sector isn’t pulling its weight too. So the days of the City dictating terms to the rest of the country are over.

The finance sector will be brought in line with the rest of us in addressing the emergency, with an end to short-termist thinking – the thinking that only prices in risks associated with an investment here and now, rather than the potential for a dramatic change in the price of carbon investments leading to significant stranded assets.”

How it will be funded and organised

  • Labour’s National Transformation Fund will be funded by issuing government long-dated bonds and spent on capital investment that raises the productive capacity of the UK economy. It will include a Green Transformation Fund and a Social Transformation Fund.
  • the NTF will be overseen by a unit of HM Treasury based in the north of England.
  • a Green Transformation Fund of £250bn over ten years to invest in the areas we need to transition to a sustainable economy, energy and transport in particular.
  • some specific projects will be announced between now and the General Election but those already announced include retrofitting homes, offshore wind and Crossrail for the North
  • a proportion will be earmarked for Local Transformation Funds to be spent under the auspices of regional boards (see below)
  • a Social Transformation Fund of £150bn over five years to repair the damage done to the infrastructure of the country by years of austerity and neglect. This would include capital investment for schools, hospitals, etc and again elements will be announced before the election.
  • Labour will establish regional offices of Government in each of the nine regions of England. The Offices will be staffed by civil servants from relevant departments, including Treasury, BEIS, MHCLG, Transport, and Education.
  • their responsibilities will include setting priorities for regional development banks, feeding into the Sustainable Investment Board, regional spatial planning and industrial strategies, and identifying and delivering projects to be funded from the Local Transformation Funds.
  • strategic governance of the Offices will be the responsibility of an Executive Board made up of county and city leaders in the area. Twice a year the Board will be held accountable by a General Assembly open to local councillors, LEPs/businesses and unions in the region.
  • the overall figures will include Barnett consequentials for devolved governments.


Labour in government will not only promise that communities outside London will not be forgotten as they were for years under right-wing governments – it will reorganise key political and financial functions to guarantee it.

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  1. As long as Jennie Formby and all the other useless apparatchiks who were complicit in the victimisation of Chris Williamson don’t move North as well!

    1. That’s right Jack, keep on exploiting and manipulating people/JC-supporting members in relation to Chris Williamson. You’ve been at it all day long, since 10.40 this morning, hours before the news came through. But what WAS the news? Well it was NO news, because the NEC meeting wasn’t gonna change anything. He was suspended, as he has been since last February in effect, and if someone is suspended, then they can’t stand – or be endorsed – as a LP candidate. So all your lambasting and castigatingof Jeremy earlier, and now Jennie Formby, is totally misplaced as regards any decision the NEC made about Chris today….. well yesterday now in fact.

      So I wonder why the NEC would hold a meeting – and publish a press release – about Chris when there was nothing to discuss. Funny that. Oh well, it gave you, and a few others, the opportunity to castigate and criticise Jeremy, and now Jennie, and right at the start of a general election campaign too. Hmm, anyone would think you were trying to foster as much ill feeling and disillusionment in skwawkbox readers – many of whom are LP members – towards Jeremy as you possibly can.

      You certainly couldn’t be doing a much better job of it if you WERE trying to, and THAT was your objective and your hidden agenda.


      1. The last sentence of the first paragraph should have read:

        So all your lambasting and castigating of Jeremy earlier, and now Jennie Formby, is totally misplaced as regards any decision the NEC made about Chris today….. well yesterday now in fact, cos the NEC didn’t make any decision about Chris, and never intended to.

      2. Dead right! Dear Jennie Formby, please accept my resignation from the Labour Party. Enjoy yourself with the rest of the Blairites. CW4PM

  2. With the Houses of Parliament being Closed for renovation. It would a sensible time to move the Whole Shebang Some where Central such as Doncaster. It is a transport hub and more central to the nation. It would be cheaper than hiring property in London.

  3. And where is the fullsome praise from Jeremy for Chris Williamson who stood by him through thick and thin as there was for Watson the snake who took every opportunity to stab him in the back?

    Who is running the Labour Party?

    1. So I just finished responding to your…. er …post at the top of the page, posted it and scrolled down, and low-and-behold, yer off again!

      I hope they’re paying you overtime!

      1. Allan, I’m so pleased my comments hit a raw nerv with you but you need to learn to relax a little and not get so wound up 🙂

    2. So, soon, soon, soon arise a shiny new Lord TWatson, joining Lords MendaciousMannMcNickers?

      Think of it… imagine, these creatures are sent there… GIFTED there. Gifted the finest ways and means to sabotage and wreck with exquisite ermined authority.

      Gifted the luxury to enjoy at tax-payers expense, our expense, a lifetime of security AND access to data, to further undermine Corbyn and Labour’s foot soldiers. Foot soldiers writing policies and manifestoes for a world transformed… never mind a country or even our party transformed.

      Maybe, transforming a party with comradely behaviour is just too prosaic. Maybe using comradely words, satisfies more easily. Some words take less effort and almost no thought.

      Re: the treatment of Williamson, has there ever been, in the history of the world, a dispenser of “a kinder and gentler politics”, so ill-judged? So misdirected? So self destructive? So demoralising to the many? So emboldening AND enabling to the few?
      So uncalibrated …unbalanced and un proportioned in application? And yet at the same time, so vivid and humungous a betrayal? Betrayal as sharp as the abandonment of one as devoted, diligent and determined to serve the many, as Chris Williamson.

      Where is the gratitude? Where is the kindness and gentleness for the likes of Chris Williamson? Is the worth of the many so low? Are the many to be sacrificed to appease the PROVEN unappeasable few?

      Ah well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… and yet, still, STILL, this world seems curiouser and curiouser…. and still i’m ever hopeful.

      1. “Where is the gratitude? Where is the kindness and gentleness for the likes of Chris Williamson?”

        …and answer came there none.

        Williamson is resigning from LP and standing as an independent. What a decision he was no doubt forced to make by a cringing, cowering, integrity desert of NEC and disciplinary process. I hope he gets the support he deserves.

  4. Looks like Labour have their finger on the button and this type of investment has been a long time coming after the collapse of the many traditional industry’s many decades ago and the last few years.I want to see the old mill towns youth finally rise from the ashes of the collapse of the cotton industry and left to rot under successive governments of Tory and Labour .Get the whole centre of government out of the disney world of Westminster to a modern building in anywhere but London..And move the BBC permananly to Salford quays and the HQ..Real change from a real government.. Labour.!

  5. More waffle from the London-elite destroying our democratic socialist Labour Party – if the likes of McDonnell cared about democratic socialism they’d be howling from the rooftops about the betrayal of Christopher Williamson, instead, we have have a Labour Shadow Chancellor still pushing neoliberalism down our throats – yes folks, its neoliberalism dressed up nicely for the pig ignorant, as Bill Mitchell has addressed in numerous posts on his Blog of late, add this to desires to remain in the EU and we have no radical change.

    Let me go further, as a former constituent of and CLP member of Leicester East, no way in a millions years would I campaign for or cast a vote for Keith Vaz – I’d be forced to abstain on principle, which is something I don’t give up for a whiff of power.

    Indeed, had I still been living in Leicester, I’d have hoped on the train and headed to Derby to canvass for Christopher Williamson, who is actually a democratic socialist, one threw under a bus by the London-based Labour Mafia.

    Good news is, already expelled from the Party by McNicol, however, its sad to say that diversity of opinion within the Party now is lower than under Blair – so much for Formby and so much for alleged Leftwing gains within the Party. Hope Lansman and his fascistic Momentum crowd are happy with these outcomes, which, are an utter disgrace.

    Unlike other so called Leftwingers, I don’t throw comrades under a bus.

  6. An astute move, although it will have to be to Birmingham. As all other prospective cities – Doncaster, Leeds, York, Manchester, Preston, Sheffield, Lancaster, will be underwater, probably sometime mid next century, once all the ice melts. Bradford with the coastal resort of Shipley would be another good bet.

    1. ps. Ian Austin recording was played on several MSM urging people to vote for the Johnson, the Tories, as “Corbyn is unfit to lead this country”. 7:03 on R4, then 5Live, LBC, Talkradio have all quoted Austin, even just now 11:38 again on 5Live. Questions: Was Ian Austin ever suspended or expelled? Or was he allowed to leave on his own terms? Even Long-Bailey responded to the Austin bilge, with “Ian has done great work”. And she is “sad” that he said what he said. And, wait for it… SHE HOPES HE WILL CHANGE HIS MIND.

      Interestingly, Chackrabati dripped similar, around 22:00hrs the very night Campbell was expelled. Fresh after AC’s expulsion SC said “Campbell could be welcomed back at a later date”… I kid you not.

      So more questions: Exactly what makes Campbell, Austin, Hodge, “knife Jeremy in the front”-“ Phillips, to name a few, exactly what makes them immune from NEC censure? Exactly how do they attract “sadness” from Long-Bailey and the Manchester Mayor… name slips me, but he was also SO sad about Twatson stepping down. NB NOT EXPELLED. I have not heard a single supportive word on the MSM for Chris.

      What exactly does Chris Williamson have to do or be, to gain the approval, the care, support, tender words, comradely treatmeant etc, LAVISHED on the Ian Austin Twatson types???

      My only knowledge of Chris, is as one of the few diligent MPs working hard to support Corbyn and true Labour. Chris braved the MSM regularly which others fail to do. An effective MSM presence especially on radio, is vital. Not everyone goes to rallies. Many only listen to the radio. Chris valiantly tried to fill that void. He is always articulate, brings evidence and is assertive when the hostile presenters try their usual hostile anti-Labour browbeating.

      So where is the basic courtesy, basic gratitude for Chris? Where is the “kinder gentle politics” for Chris Williamson?

  7. The geography is an important aspect. But it’s the attitudes which are the key. Count the number of MPs who are London tourists in foreign parts who have actually made their constituency their *main* home (check where their children go to school).

  8. I think the penny dropped for me a few weeks ago that their would be no decision and to be fair many on here warned me of the NEC and the dirty tricks.Chris Williamson must be gutted that by observing the rules the Labour party have played him to keep stum and the No decision means he looses is job.. An ex brikie like Chris Williamson Will remember the yearly lay offs at Xmas in the Building trade and that it is.. customery to laugh when being awarded the DCM don’t come monday “.Who would have thought that an mp of Chris Williamson calibre would be treated to the cruelty and flippent rules of the Building sites of yesteryear…..played by the NEC as a fool and treated with contempt..I wish Chris Williamson all the best and warn the NEC that win or loose we will the membership and Chris Williamson not be treated with contempt on the Alter of the AS scam…..wait till after the election?

  9. John Woodcock just reported as agreeing with Ian Austin. The “Labour” London Mayor, said this morning on LBC 97.3 that he agrees with Ian Austin. When will the London LABOUR mayor be suspended, investigated and expelled for endorsing the views of IAN AUSTIN, that “Jeremy is unfit to lead this country” AND, that they should vote Tory. ie Ian Austin feels the Johnson is “fit to lead this country”.

    So our London LABOUR mayor agrees with an ex Labour MP now employed by the Tories. When will the London Mayor be deselected?

  10. Very disappointed that comments were apparently prevented on
    the Twatson post, in an effort to ensure the “” don’t speak his
    name, he is a non-person”” for Chris Williamson ? Just seen the hatchet job written by Lara McNeill , on behalf of the NEC , in Labour List . Vile .
    Sadly, if Jeremy Corbyn will not / cannot stand up for himself and his loyal supporters he is not fit to be the leader.
    It gives me no pleasure at all to say this . I have spent a lot of time and effort defending Jeremy Corbyn but this is a deep disappointment and I will no longer do so.
    Others have said “”the party is more important than one individual”” . Perhaps they should extend this further …..
    I am done with them .. ( and Allan Howard – I have no interest in your ramblings so save it for someone who might be impressed)

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