Is the Labour party starting to panic? After a YouGov forecast this week suggested that the Tories could win scores of seats in the North of England, the Labour party appear to have made a rushed attempt to address regional inequality today.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announced this morning that not only would his party have a manifesto for the whole of the UK, Labour would also launch a separate manifesto for every single region of England – to tackle the scourge of our country's regional disparities. According to Labour, the manifestos showed that the party is committed to 'delivering change' and 'will benefit every person and community in Britain.'
It's usually a welcome sign when political parties move their focus away from London and discover a world outside the M25. Unfortunately though, if England's regions were hoping for the royal treatment from Labour, these manifestos don't seem to provide it.
Looking through the 'separate' manifesto introductions on the Labour party website, it quickly became apparent to Mr S that instead of bothering to create an individual missive for each of England's regions, Labour has simply copied and pasted the same script nine times, often only bothering to swap each region's name in their introductions.
Even the party's supposed 'Top commitments' for each region appear to be a copy and paste job. Four of the five commitments for each region are exactly the same, with only the numbers adjusted to match the size of each area's population.
Spot the difference. Labour's North East manifesto introduction:
and its North West edition:
The one exemption to the identikit treatment, unsurprisingly, was London, which received a custom write-up on Transport for London, the capital's violent crime problem, and Mayor Sadiq Khan's efforts to tackle London's housing crisis.
If Labour are hoping to win back Northern voters, Mr S can pass on some small advice: perhaps don't treat England's regions as if they're indistinguishable...