Winning As One in Greater Manchester

Winning As One means that instead of working against each other, progressives will campaign and fight together – not just against the Conservatives, but for a different, more collaborative kind of politics. 

That cooperative spirit was on full display last Thursday when we launched our campaign to Win As One in Greater Manchester.

At the last election, there was a higher concentration of ‘progressive tragedy’ seats in Greater Manchester than anywhere else in the country. 

These are seats where support for progressive parties outnumbered support for the Conservatives at the last general election, but the Tories still won because the progressive vote was split.

Over half a million voters in Greater Manchester are represented by a Conservative who benefitted from this progressive division. We can’t let this happen again.

We know the path to a progressive win must come through Greater Manchester – that’s why we organised our event at Night & Day Cafe with Andy Burnham last week.

The Greater Manchester Mayor joined Compass Deputy Director Frances Foley in conversation to discuss how progressives can build their collective power across the North ahead of the next general election.

He called on the Labour Party to ‘lose its ambivalence to devolution’ and reflected on the mistakes New Labour made in leaving this programme of democratic renewal unfinished, warning that without electoral reform and a rewiring of our political system, we could be looking at ‘another Tory-dominated century.’

He said proportional representation could bring about a ‘massive switch of power to the people over the vested interests’, adding: “We have a parliament that doesn’t represent all people and all places equally. How can that possibly be acceptable to anybody in 2023?”

The discussion was followed by our all-female first panel, chaired by Ruth Hannan from People’s Powerhouse. 

Panellists explored issues around campaigning and advocacy, with contributions from Zoe Cohen from XR Manchester, Neelam Heera from We’re Right Here and Compass’ very own Lena Swedlow.

Zoe Cohen captured the urgency of the moment: “We need community, we need resilience, we need all of us coming together, because this is the fight of our lives. But there’s a better world at the end of it, and that’s worth fighting for.”

Neelam Hera urged activists to start seriously engaging with people from marginalised communities to fight the worrying backsliding on democratic and civil rights: “Slowly, our rights are being taken away from us, so we do need to work collaboratively.”

Our second panel, chaired by Compass Manchester activist Eliza Tyrrell, focused on cross party cooperation and was composed of three Greater Manchester councillors: Chris Northwood (Lib Dem), Luthfur Rahman (Labour) and Cllr Geraldine Coggins (Green).

All the councillors spoke out in favour of deeper democracy and showed us that, at a local level, cooperation is already the norm.

Chris Northwood said: “Cooperation is just necessary to get things done, and get things done well. No-one knows everything, and no-one represents everyone.”

Geraldine Coggins added: “With PR, we get a more consensus-based, cooperative politics. The system we have is not about one or two bad apples.”

But it wouldn’t be a party without live music, and New Orleans-style brass band Mr Wilsons Second Liners were on hand to provide the energy – and the tunes – that kept the night flowing.

We want to thank all of our speakers and the band for the amazing entertainment – but most importantly, we want to thank those who turned up and made the evening an incredible success.

But if you didn’t make it to the event, don’t worry – there will be plenty more opportunities to get involved. Last Thursday was brilliant, but it was just the start. We’re ramping up our campaigning in Greater Manchester to make a plan for the next election and beyond. 

Although there (sadly) won’t be a brass band, we’re coming together on zoom on Wednesday 28th June at 7pm to continue the conversation and discuss how to take things forward.

Sign up to join the meeting of our Greater Manchester group here.

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