The ‘Northern Powerhouse’, a Manchester Left Writers Open Democracy series

I co-founded Manchester Left Writers (MLW) in January 2014, initially as a leftwing reading group, before shifting it into a more critical focus, via a series of publications called Broadsides and Precarious Passages.

I am now co-editing a series of articles with openDemocracyUK. In it, we aim to present the Northern Powerhouse as a prism, dispersing different political colours, and structures of feeling, in the present. We are looking at Manchester initially, the glittering prize in George Osborne’s eye, and then thinking about how to reclaim the mythical space of ‘the Northern Powerhouse’ for its people.

First, we have an Introduction to the series, before an opening salvo, The Northern Powerhouse as Real Mirage, and then David Wilkinson on the Gay Village, gentrification and the crash of 2008. This article was originally called Civic Pride.

Next, we have a co-authored piece by Natalie Bradbury, Robert Galeta, and me, called Pomona for the People, which argues for a proper public ‘agora’, or forum, in the city. It makes an argument for real ‘placemaking’ in the present, for everyone, rather than the ‘futures’ of capitalism for the few.

The photograph of graffiti on Pomona shows that it is already an interstitial, open space by default – it lies between Manchester, Trafford and Salford councils – it is clearly used by many nations, faiths and cultures. Why not keep it like this? Sadly, the answer is obvious, because capital and neoconservatism control the discourse. I have uploaded the original 3,000+ word cut, but here is the Open Democracy edit too.

The next piece was by Bob Dickinson, on Peel power, the real Northern PowerhouseThis was followed by Northern House Power and very shortly afterwards Seeing the Global in the Local. Here is the whole series:


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