Labour’s radical localism in Preston has transformed the city, and given people the political participation they crave

Since Labour’s resounding election defeat in December, it has become something of a truism to say the loss of its “heartlands” was many years in the making. Across the north and Midlands, the slow burn of mine closures and deindustrialisation left a decisive void in the party – not only in an economic sense, but also politically.

As industry vanished so did the local unions, working men’s clubs and labour societies that once offered working people genuine opportunities for democratic participation. Brexit filled this space, offering people a version of the sense of identity, inclusion and control that Labour has since failed to create: some argue that the party’s attempt to replay and therefore counteract the referendum may have lost it the “working-class” vote for good.

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