The Northern Agenda

Laudable

The Northern Agenda is a weekly podcast covering politics and public affairs from across the North of England, voiced by journalists who are outside the Westminster bubble, reporting from the other side of the North/South divide. From Blackpool to Barnsley and Bamburgh and everywhere in between, exploring subjects such as levelling up to buses, elections to the latest council scraps, The Northern Agenda brings you discussion and analysis of the North's big political stories, from people experiencing them on the ground. Rob Parsons speaks to politicians, activists, campaigners, experts, community figures, journalists, business leaders, pollsters and more about the political stories that really matter to the North - and from the North - that you won't hear about from the national media in London. The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and it is produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ read less
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Episodes

📱Smart phones 'destroying our children' | Where's Newcastle's Saudi jobs boom?
May 17 2024
📱Smart phones 'destroying our children' | Where's Newcastle's Saudi jobs boom?
Most of us spend our days with a mobile phone practically glued to our hand - in fact you may well be listening to this podcast on it right now. And it's becoming more and more common for children to have a smart phone, some even before they start at secondary school. But there are more and more people who are terrified at what the ubiquity of smart phones and social media is doing to our children's minds, their mental health and their ability to learn. And one of the politicians articulating those fears most vocally is an MP in South Yorkshire, Miriam Cates, who this week led a debate at Westminster calling on the Government to take urgent action before it's too late. Rob Parsons speaks to her and also a former Yorkshire headteacher whose school introduced an effective ban on smart phones because of what it was doing to students' behaviour.  And he chats to Local Democracy Reporter Dan Holland about one of the more interesting developments in Northern politics this week, namely the relationship between civic and business leaders in the North East of England and the oil-rich Gulf state of Saudi Arabia. We know Manchester's booming economy has been achieved thanks in large part to massive private investment encouraged by city leaders, including the Abu Dhabi royal family who now own Manchester City Football Club. But is something similar on the verge of happening in the football-mad city of Newcastle - and why are many in the North opposed to it? The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Having a mayor - what now for the North's new political superheroes?
May 10 2024
Having a mayor - what now for the North's new political superheroes?
We're a week on from the local and mayoral elections and the dust is still settling on a set of results which dealt another major blow to Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives. And it was the election of metro mayors - the political figureheads for big regions like the North East, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire - which made most of the headlines. But while most Westminster pundits - and Rishi Sunak himself, are preoccupied with what these results mean for the upcoming General Election, there's a lot less attention being paid to the mayors themselves. Who are they, what are their policies and why are people voting for them, if they bother to vote at all? And do they really know how to run their regions better than Westminster? This week as the new mayors got back to work after the elections Rob Parsons speaks to one of them, South Yorkshire's Oliver Coppard, about why he's prioritising transport in his second term.  And Rob gets the bigger picture with three brilliant guests: Jen Williams, Northern Correspondent for the Financial Times, who wrote a great piece last week about how the mayoral elections mark a milestone for English devolution and has taken a particular interest in the affairs of Tees Valley Ben Houchen.  Gill Morris, executive chair of Devo Inflect, the UK's leading devolution public affairs agency.  Professor Katy Shaw from Northumbria University is one of the experts who helped write Gordon Brown's commission on the UK's future, setting out plans for sweeping constitutional change, which Labour leader Keir Starmer has promised to implement. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Which political story should we be paying more attention to: Angela Rayner or Mark Menzies?
Apr 19 2024
Which political story should we be paying more attention to: Angela Rayner or Mark Menzies?
Which political story should we be paying more attention to: the saga of Angela Rayner's council house in Stockport or that of Lancashire MP Mark Menzies, who is accused of using political donations to cover medical expenses and pay off “bad people” who had locked him in a flat and demanded thousands of pounds for his release? This week Rob Parsons compares the merits of these two stories with the Liverpool Echo's Liam Thorp. Meanwhile Liam tells us why he believes it was right to identify two local politicians who failed to pay council tax and why 'XL Gullies' are proving a menace to hungry workers in Liverpool city centre. PLUS: Regular listeners to the podcast will have heard about lots of different examples of the North of England being on the wrong end of stark regional inequality. But it's still shocking to find out there are big differences in the numbers of vulnerable children going into care between our region and other parts of the country. A new report sets out how one in every 52 children in Blackpool is in care compared with one in 140 across England, while the North of England accounts for just over a quarter (28%) of the child population, but more than a third (36%) of the children in care. There's a human cost but an economic one too. Researchers for Health Equity North say if the North of England had experienced the same rates of children entering care as the South between 2019 and 2023, “it would have saved at least £25 billion”. To find out why this is happening Rob speaks to one of the authors of the report, Professor David Taylor-Robinson from the University of Liverpool. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Alex Niven on why he believes the North will rise again | How much do we know about Labour's policies for the North?
Apr 12 2024
Alex Niven on why he believes the North will rise again | How much do we know about Labour's policies for the North?
This week​,​ Rob Parsons speaks to an author who's asked the question: How did the North become a place of lost potential and broken dreams? And what can be done to make it one of the most dynamic and forward-looking places in the world once again? Alex Niven is the man behind the book The North Will Rise Again, which covers the colourful adventures of its inhabitants, the expansiveness and optimism that defines Northern culture, A native Northerner himself, having returned to his home city of Newcastle with his family in the last few years, Alex explores issues like radical regionalism, Northern identity austerity, the impact of Brexit, the collapse of Labour's 'Red Wall', and calls for regional devolution. ​Meanwhile, with a General Election coming this year and Labour miles ahead in the polls, ​i​t's high time we scrutinised what a change of Government might mean for the North of England. It's been very easy for Keir Starmer's Labour Party to slam the failings of levelling up and the promises of the Boris Johnson Government that failed to materialise, but voters up here deserve to know exactly what the Opposition would do differently if they got into power. So how much do we know about Labour's policies which might affect the North? Someone who's been looking at just that subject is Joseph Timan, political writer for the Manchester Evening News​,​ he tells Rob what we've learned. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
EXCLUSIVE: The Northern Agenda hosts the hustings for the new elected mayor of the North East
Apr 7 2024
EXCLUSIVE: The Northern Agenda hosts the hustings for the new elected mayor of the North East
This week the Northern Agenda podcast comes from the headquarters of the North East's Chronicle and Journal newspapers in the centre of Newcastle for a special mayoral hustings edition. In a month's time one of the five people speaking to Rob Parsons over the conference room table will be the new elected mayor of the North East. They'll have powers and funding - some £4.2bn over 30 years - to impact the lives of millions of people in a huge patch stretching from Berwick to Barnard Castle. So the stakes will be high when voters across Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland pick their preferred candidate - meaning there is all the more reason to know who they are and what they'll do if they get into power. Joining Rob Parsons for the hustings is Jamie Driscoll, the independent candidate who is currently mayor of the North of Tyne, university archivist Andrew Gray standing for the Green Party and Dr Aidan King, who works at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary for the Liberal Democrats. Labour's candidate is Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and for the Conservatives we have Northumberland County Councillor Guy Renner Thompson. Sunderland councillor Paul Donaghy, who is Reform UK's candidate, couldn't make it so has sent in a recorded message. Hear them set out how they'd approach the job and their position on the big issues that will likely matter to voters, including answers to questions sent in by Chronicle and Journal readers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Northern Agenda's Road to the Election: Blackpool South
Mar 28 2024
The Northern Agenda's Road to the Election: Blackpool South
In the next few months as the impending General Election dominates our politics, The Northern Agenda podcast is going on the road. Across the North of England voters will be going to the polls five years on from the dramatic 2019 election where large swathes of our region broke the habit of decades by switching their allegiance from Labour to the Tories, putting Boris Johnson into Downing Street in the process. If the polls are anything to go by, those so-called 'red wall' seats are now set to go back to Labour - plus a few more besides. But polling can only tell us so much about what’s happened in the North in the last 5 years. We want to hear from these Northern communities directly so between now and the election The Northern Agenda will be going to key seats around the North, we might even venture into the Midlands, to find out what’s making them tick. First stop for Northern Agenda Editor Rob Parsons is the seaside resort of Blackpool, where there will soon be an early electoral test for Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak. In just a few weeks there’s going to be a by-election in the Blackpool South constituency after its MP, Conservative Scott Benton, was caught by The Times newspaper offering to lobby ministers and table parliamentary questions on behalf of gambling investors. But there’s more reason to care about Blackpool than just political intrigue - it tells us a fascinating story about the decline of coastal towns and the challenges facing the so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda. So have a listen as The Northern Agenda takes the temperature at the country’s most popular seaside resort. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram: their plan to rewire and reimagine our country beyond the Westminster bubble
Mar 7 2024
Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram: their plan to rewire and reimagine our country beyond the Westminster bubble
This week Rob Parsons speaks to two political best mates who were born just a few miles away from each other in Liverpool and have gone on to be two of the best-known elected figures in our region. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, and Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, have teamed up to write a new book where they share their formative experiences and set out an ambitious ten-point plan to rewire and reimagine our country beyond the Westminster bubble. Their book Head North, which is out today, sets out how both men were shaped in different ways by the Hillsborough disaster and how we can spread political and economic power throughout the UK, away from the centre of power in London and towards the North. The timing for the book is pretty interesting - both men are up for election in a few weeks and there's a General Election not far away where they might hope some of their radical ideas could become Labour policy. Find out what they thought of each other when they first met, how Keir Starmer might react to their radical ideas and their take on the row over Labour abandoning its £28bn-a-year green jobs pledge. The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Reaction to the Rochdale by-election result | 2080: the year when the life expectancy North-South gap really changes
Mar 1 2024
Reaction to the Rochdale by-election result | 2080: the year when the life expectancy North-South gap really changes
This week the focus of Northern politicians is on Leeds, where the Convention of the North will see hundreds of the region's political and business leaders try and work out how to make our region a powerhouse again. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and Labour's Deputy Leader Angela Rayner will be making their pitch about what their parties can do for the North at the two-day Convention of the North conference. But a report out today from the IPPR North think-tank sets out how far there still is to go and says it will be 2080 - a full five decades away - before the gap in healthy life expectancy between the North and the South East really changes. The question is, what do we do about it? And this week on the podcast Rob Parsons speaks to Richards Stubbs, CEO of Health Innovation Yorkshire and the Humber, one of the organisations behind a new report that says focusing our attention on creating high-skilled jobs is the best way to get the North off its collective sick bed. The research prompts the intriguing question, if we want to save the NHS in the North of England do we need better hospitals, or better train links? But in terms of the national media, the only story in town as far as the North is concerned is the absolute chaos of the Rochdale by-election, where, as you might remember from our episode two weeks ago, what started out as a safe Labour seat has now seen the party without a candidate and voters subjected to one of the most divisive election campaigns in recent years. Joseph Timan of the Manchester Evening News sends in a dispatch about who won as firebrand former Labour MP George Galloway bids to pull off a shock upset to return him to Parliament. The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Reform UK: raging against the machine, or the UK's new third party?
Feb 22 2024
Reform UK: raging against the machine, or the UK's new third party?
This week the Northern Agenda switches focus away from the two main political parties to one that seems to be gathering momentum and hopes to do some real damage to the Conservatives at the next General Election. Reform UK, founded by Nigel Farage as the Brexit Party back in 2018 and renamed in 2020 to campaign against lockdown measures during the Covid pandemic, came third in two Parliamentary by-elections last week and has promised to field a candidate in every single constituency at the next General Election. We know Reform is anti-lockdown, pro-Brexit, in favour of slashing taxes and leans into a number of divisive culture war issues. But does it have any policies to improve the lives of people in the North of England? This weekend it's holding a big spring conference in Doncaster and ahead of the event Rob Parsons talks to one of the main speakers, the Talk TV host Alex Phillips who is now one of the party's most high profile members. Rob asks her about the involvement of Nigel Farage in the party, how Reform plans to hurt the Tories at the ballot box and why the party would support an end to the ban on fracking, the highly controversial technique for extracting shale gas in places like North Yorkshire and Lancashire that caused huge protest before being ruled out by the Conservative government in 2019. Plus, Yorkshire Conservative councillor Tom Jones explains why Reform may not have the impact they're hoping for - and what his party can do to stop them taking votes off them at the next election. *** The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Will George Galloway be Rochdale's next MP? | Dragging North's market towns into 2024
Feb 16 2024
Will George Galloway be Rochdale's next MP? | Dragging North's market towns into 2024
In big cities like Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Leeds the last few years have seen huge amounts of regeneration, transforming them beyond recognition.  But what about our region's larger satellite towns and smaller cities, many with a proud tradition and history that stretches back to before the Industrial Revolution? With town centres that went into decline in recent years, thanks in part to the rise of retail parks and online shopping - isn't it about time they were brought up to date to meet our changing demands? St Helens, with a population of about 180,000 people between Liverpool and Manchester, is in many ways a typical Northern market town. It's in the next wave of areas bringing forward large-scale regeneration plans with town centre markets at the heart of it. But our habits have changed rapidly in recent years so how will they make this new project fit for 2024 and beyond? Rob Parsons speaks to leading officials behind the plans. Also, with the Rochdale by-election making headlines this week, Rob chats to Jo Timan of the Manchester Evening News about what locals make of it - and would firebrand George Galloway make a good MP? *** The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Daniel J. McLaughlin. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A North East mayor: Why should we care?
Jan 19 2024
A North East mayor: Why should we care?
This week Rob Parsons gets listeners up to speed on what could be the most consequential and interesting election in the first half of this year - unless of course Rishi Sunak is forced to call an early General Election in the next few weeks. On May 2 the North East will go to the polls to choose the region's first ever metro mayor, with a host of new powers devolved from Westminster and a multi-billion pound war chest to spend. Unlike many of the elections for the North's metro mayors it's going to be a closely-fought dramatic battle and one with high stakes - as the winner will have the chance to transform a region that for so many decades has felt left behind and ignored by decision-makers in government. But whoever is elected will also lead a new mayoral authority with a big budget whose arrival will shake up the political landscape in the North East.  Rob speaks to the man in charge of setting up that new body - Dr Henry Kippin - for a rare interview about how the North East devolution deal will work and practice, what it will mean for people locally and how the new mayor will be held to account. And one of the North East's most knowledgeable political journalists, Dan Holland, the Local Democracy Reporter for Newcastle and the North East, sets the scene with a summary of the protracted and tortuous process that finally saw local leaders agree a deal with government. If you like the Northern Agenda podcast, why not leave a written review wherever you get your podcasts as it helps us get Northern politics in front of more people. And don’t forget, you can subscribe to our daily newsletter at www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk. The Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. It is presented by Rob Parsons - and this week's episode was edited and produced by Celeste Adams. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Keir Starmer up North | Hear Labour leader as he's quizzed by students on Greater Manchester visit
Jan 15 2024
Keir Starmer up North | Hear Labour leader as he's quizzed by students on Greater Manchester visit
This week Northern Agenda Editor Rob Parsons crosses over the Pennines to witness a big day for the Manchester Evening News - a visit from the man who in the next few months is likely to become this country's next Prime Minister. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was out and about in the North West as he leaves Westminster behind and tries to connect with the voters he hopes will hand him the keys to 10 Downing Street. After visiting Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool he popped into the M.E.N. office a few miles from the city centre and sat down for a one-to-one interview with the paper's political writer Joseph Timan about HS2, his relationship with Andy Burnham and how Labour can win back the 'red wall'. But before that he had a very different challenge, a question and answer session with voters of the future, a selection of students from Greater Manchester colleges who wanted to know about issues like knife crime, school funding and work-life balance. Have a listen to the highlights of both on this week's episode of The Northern Agenda podcast. *** Northern Agenda is a Laudable production for Reach. This week's episode is presented by Rob Parsons, and produced by Celeste Adams. You can subscribe to the daily Northern Agenda newsletter here: http://www.thenorthernagenda.co.uk/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices