Has Labour lost its 'red wall' forever?

Labour’s historical general election victories were built on a bedrock of safe seats in the north of England. But a year ago it lost some of its most prized seats to the Conservatives – and so far voters appear to have few regrets

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Exactly a year ago this past weekend, the Conservatives won a thumping majority by taking seats across the midlands and north of England. These constituencies had once been so safe for Labour that they had come to be known as the ‘red wall’. But in recent years there were ominous signs that support for the party was faltering. The Brexit referendum was the first time many broke with Labour and then on December 12 2019, the red wall crumbled.

One brick to fall was Leigh in Greater Manchester, a place that had voted solidly Labour since 1922. Helen Pidd tells Anushka Asthana that as part of a five-year reporting project she has been following voters in the town to gauge their current sentiments about the government they helped elect. Despite a torrid year and a looming Brexit crisis, she finds few willing to express regrets about switching their votes.

Local Authority Budgets Wigan<br>© Joel Goodman for the Guardian - 07973 332324 - all rights reserved . 22/10/2018 . Leigh , UK . A woman walks past a bed shop on Railway Road . Local authorities are adopting different approaches to manage cuts in funding after years of austerity . Photo credit : Joel Goodman
Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian
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