Pendle May 26, 2020 19:34:33 GMT
Post by Deleted on May 26, 2020 19:34:33 GMT
As we travelled, we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered.
— George Fox: An Autobiography
— George Fox: An Autobiography
Craven: “The exact extent of it we nowhere find”
— Thomas Cox
— Thomas Cox
They do things differently in Pendle. The borough, tucked far away in the east of Lancashire, sits where the Pennines and Bowland Fell encroach, nearby and yet distant, prominent but still with a sense of mystery and the unknown. Yes, this is the area of ancient Witch trials, where women who caused local suspicion and concern were 'tried' for their alleged flirtations with the occult. It's a long walk behind horses to Lancaster gaol, especially as the journey between the county's judicial heart and rural outpost involved traipsing over the remote and bleak forests and isolated landscapes of Bowland. Not for the weak, and of course, women who showed no signs of weakness often found themselves accused of dancing to a supernatural tune.
The parliamentary seat of Pendle was formed in 1983, broadly the successor to Nelson and Colne. Now there is a seat with some history going through the ages, echoing through psephological history as sure as the howl from a witch's familiar. Nelson and Colne 'crossed the border', so to speak, with the "West Craven" area joining Lancashire in the 1970s governance re-jigging. The red and white roses of the two neighbouring councils fly over many different buildings here, and indeed, exist as unified peaceful symbols of togetherness in the mosaics of many public buildings. Yorkshire has its own "West Craven" on the east side of the Pennines, and however trivial it all sounds, it still matters to this day that some places in East Lancashire were not 'properly' red rose. In very basic terms, Nelson and Colne (in Lancashire) were added to Barnoldswick ("Barlick") and Earby (in Yorkshire). The rest, as they say, grumbles on forever.
Labour's representation of Nelson and Colne came comparatively early in the party' existence. The party won the seat in 1918 and, with some exceptions, held on until a period of marginal instability in the 1960s. The first loss came in 1931, to barrister and judge Linton Thorp, whose parliamentary life with the Tories soon came to a (self-inflicted) conclusion and a journey into directions which need not be mentioned here. David Waddington, a future Home Secretary, became in 1968 the second Conservative MP to represent this seat; he would go on to represent neighbouring Clitheroe/Ribble Valley. Throughout its existence, Nelson and Colne was comfortable without being safe: 4- and 2-thousand vote majorities the norm. These dropped significantly after the '68 by-election: Waddington held on in Feb '74 with a lead of 177 votes, this fell to a Labour gain in October '74 by 669. It was in both these 1974 contests that the Liberal Party stood for only the second time in the seat's history: the candidate was one tonygreaves .
Pendle has retained some of the marginality and important close-call results of its predecessor. It is no true bellwether. mind, falling to Labour in 1992 (see South Ribble, and Blackpool South for similar 'false dawn' Labour gains) and returned to the Tories in 2010. All the same, something about the detailed results at Parliamentary level speak of a wider Lancastrian attitude not suffering fools lightly. The current MPs 6,000 vote majority is the only such 'commanding' lead since the first ever contest here nearly 40 years previously: Pendle does not give its MPs very comfortable winning majorities.
At local borough council level, the two-party tussle for Parliamentary representation is not quite accurately reflected. Indeed, as Pendle does things differently, it becomes quite confusing to understand just what does go on. Labour can now depend on "Red" Nelson to provide quite comfortable and regular clean sweeps. In the early 2000s, the strong Liberal Democrat group here could turn much of the map, including both N&C, golden yellow. The ward along the Burnley border are more resilient against opposition to Labour, and it is here where LibDem charges often fade away. Conservative wins come largely in the countryside to east and north-east. Very regular LibDem wins come in the far north, the Craven and Coates wards covering Barnoldswick.
In common with many of the streets in hilly East Lancashire - Accrington, Padiham, and Burnley in particular, Pendle is terraced, owner-occupier, and fiercely independent. Each town and village holds its own particular attitude and voice, and while the brick of Lancashire and stone of Yorkshire may offer differences of appearance, the truth is shared far and wide: housing here is most likely owner occupied (69%, higher than the regional average), around £70-100k on average (just don't look at the outliers), and terraced (over 2/3rds of housing here is of that design, one of the highest figures in the NW). Nelson has a moderately sized, somewhat battered High Street, and within easy walking distance of its railway station, the "Little Wembley" of Nelson FC, a wonderfully little tightly drawn non-league gem surrounded by chimneys and rows of traditional, rural housing. Colne is a mix of Lancastrian and Yorkshire architecture, with its own non-league gem in Colne FC, with one of the most obvious and blatant sloped pitches in the UK. Colne is definitely the most 'market town' of the two main areas, with a good run of independent stores between the railway station and its farming outcrops. "Barlick", home to yet another non-league gem of a ground, is somewhat more remote, attached to Burnley by semi-regular buses which skirt around the communities cut off by the loss of the Colne-Skipton railway line. The borough has more mosques than pubs, Nelson's tired centre more likely to sell saris and rice in bulk than anywhere in the rural north of the same borough.
The Pendle borough has around 20% 'Asian' population at the last census, with Pakistani communities by-and-large the most common. South Asians came here for employment and business opportunities and have taken to both local life and civic politics easily indeed. It has not always resulted in the most harmonious results, either within or beyond the non-white population. As the New Statesman found in in 2017, some Labour candidates win County Council wards with "a mix of Lanky Punjabi and the characistic head-wobble of the older Asian generation". The BNP was moderately successful at local level, taking seats and spreading into Burnley too. The threat from them may have faded, but anti-EU and anti-outsider sentiment still holds sway. Local election results have settled into three-party stability: this may not last. There are rules and regulations about the way local people vote and Pendle, quite often, does not adhere to the norm.