The blue is fading in Hexham Constituency

With a General Election on the horizon political strategists are eyeing the North of England as one of the key battlegrounds that will determine the shape and size of the next Labour government and its majority.

Labour came within a whisker of winning Hexham in 1997 but since then the seat has been seen unwinnable, as safe Conservative territory.

All that has changed though. ‘Blue Fade’, a combination of the incompetent Conservative Government’s failures;  boundary changes and demographics mean that a host of previously ‘unwinnable’ Conservative seats are within Labour’s reach.

The Hexham Constituency is geographically large and covers both town and country. Hexham born Joe Morris, writing for Labour List,  argues that with one of the oldest voting populations (the over 65s make up 27.5% of the population), a strong policy on ageing and social care could catapult Labour the Hexham seat and into government.

Writing of his personal experiences, Joe emphasises the crisis that has engulfed our elderly. A crisis born of Conservative failures to fund and support the social care system over the past 13 years:

Social care is just a part of our quiet crisis. In the north, including a huge amount of traditionally Conservative seats, health outcomes are simply worse – and it costs the UK about £30bn annually in lost productivity, according to the Northern Health Science Alliance. The British Medical Bulletin found in 2015-17 that male average healthy life expectancy in the North East was only 59.5 years, compared to a national average of 63.4 years. Healthy life expectancy is how long we live in good health. In the North East, the average man lives roughly four years fewer in good health than the national average.

Labour’s policy on ‘ageing well’ – ensuring dignity as we age, addressing regional inequalities in health outcomes and ensuring that communities retain young people to staff services and local businesses – will be vital, not just in winning the next election, but securing the next great achievement of Labour in power.

Last year Wes Streeting announced that the next Labour government will look to build a National Care Service and revealed that the party has asked the Fabian Society to review where such a service should sit and the fairest way of funding it. UNISON has also launched a campaign for a National Care Service, to ensure that care workers are valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals that they are and to make certain that we are able to trust our care system.

Ageing is universal. From the densest cities to the most sparsely populated stretch of countryside, it affects everyone. For the blue fade seats, a strong policy on ageing well could catapult Labour from touching distance to making history on the next election night.

Northumberland Deserves Better