Judith this week had the pleasure of appearing on the BBC Radio 4 series, The Matter of the North. Presented by the renowned Melvyn Bragg, this eleven part radio series showcases the proud but widely under-recognised history of the North of England.
Subjects covered in the series range from a celebration of the magnificent Yorkshire landscape which so vividly inspired the internationally famed Bronte Sisters, through to the radical Bradfordian politics which gave rise to many of the basic employment rights each and every worker still enjoys today.
In episode nine, Judith explored with Melvyn the deep history of radical thought in the 19th century, which importantly included the foundation of the Independent Labour Party in the rising city of Bradford in 1893. The Independent Labour Party was founded by a coalition of trade unions and radical thinkers to tackle the lack of working class recognition in the Houses of Parliament. At that time, the many millions of workers at the coalface of the industrial revolution were demanding improved pay and conditions. This unrest was best illustrated by the severe and unjust wage cuts forced on thousands of textile workers, based at Manningham Mills in Bradford, in 1890.
In response to a question from Melvyn, asking whether it was surprising that the city of Bradford played such an important part in the UK’s political history, Judith highlighted ‘Bradford … rich tradition of radical thought, and rich tradition of radical organising” combined with the city’s “pragmatism and true northern grit”. For these reasons, Judith believed that Bradford was and continues to be an important player in the North’s political landscape.
In its other episodes, The Matter of the North explores a range of further key moments in the 19th century such as the Peterloo Massacre, the Chartist movement and the Anti-slavery campaign which all owe their beginnings to movements rooted in the North of England.