Broken Heartlands is an essential and compelling political road-trip through ten constituencies that tell the story of Labour’s red wall from Sebastian Payne – an award-winning journalist and Whitehall Editor for the Financial Times.
The Times Political Book of the Year
A Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail and FT Book of the Year
‘Immensely readable’ – Observer
Historically, the red wall formed the backbone of Labour’s vote in the Midlands and the North of England but, during the 2019 general election, it dramatically turned Conservative for the first time in living memory, redrawing the electoral map in the process.
Originally from the North East himself, Payne sets out to uncover the real story behind the red wall and what turned these seats blue. Beginning in Blyth Valley in the North East and ending in Burnley, with visits to constituencies across the Midlands and Yorkshire along the way, Payne gets to the heart of a key political story of our time that will have ramifications for years to come.
While Brexit and the unpopularity of opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn are factors, there is a more nuanced story explored in Broken Heartlands – of how these northern communities have fared through generational shifts, struggling public services, de-industrialization and the changing nature of work. Featuring interviews with local people, plus major political figures from both parties – including Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer – Payne explores the significant role these social and economic forces, decades in the making, have played in this fundamental upheaval of the British political landscape.
‘Impressive and entertaining’ – Sunday Times
‘A must-read for anyone who wants to understand England today’ – Robert Peston
Broken Heartlands is the product of rich reporting on the ground . . . Payne tells many stories of many places and people with affection and respect, to weave a picture of the changing political fabric of England -- Laura Kuenssberg A compelling chronicle of why English politics is undergoing such fundamental change. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand England today -- Robert Peston The political book of the year about one of the most consequential elections of my lifetime. Essential reading -- Andrew Neil A really fascinating and surprisingly moving book. Payne takes us on a journey that feels personal as well as political and helps us better understand what the red wall really is, who its voters are, and what politics has meant to them over the past few tumultuous years -- Isabel Hardman, author of Why We Get The Wrong Politicians A must-read for all those who want to learn the lessons of Labour's 2019 defeat -- Paul Mason, author of PostCapitalism Sebastian Payne demolishes the cliches that smother debate about the north of England and provides a simultaneously tender and acute guide to the land that London forgot -- Nick Cohen Part travelogue, part Question Time, Payne interviews pretty much everyone. This is a first draft of history as first drafts of history should properly be written -- Tom Holland Immensely readable. Labour's crisis in the red wall . . . will shape the future of English politics. This engrossing, warm and insightful work is an indispensable guide to how it came about -- Observer, book of the week Compelling, authoritative but human . . . the book will inevitably become an important resource for historians * Sunday Times * Reminiscent of Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier, Payne travels around Labour's former 'red wall' to paint a stark picture of those left behind * Daily Telegraph * Payne's entertaining and insightful book is essential reading * Evening Standard * Comprehensive and entertaining -- The Times, book of the week One of the book's many strengths is its precision . . . Payne's book examines the narratives on Red Wall constituencies like the layers of an onion: starting with superficial readings, before peeling them back to reveal greater complexity -- Stephen Bush, New Statesman Entertaining political travelogue . . . plenty of insights . . . Payne is a guide without any trace of snobbery * Financial Times * Payne, who grew up in Gateshead . . . has an instinctive rapport with people who feel overlooked and abandoned by Labour * The Week * First class political reportage . . . should be considered required reading for anyone interested in British politics * Mail on Sunday * Nuanced take on Labour's lost strongholds. Raised in Gateshead, Payne brings intimacy and depth * Guardian * The most revealing book about politics just doesn't happen to come from America: The United Kingdom's 'red wall,' Albion's version of the Rust Belt, is the subject of Broken Heartlands * Washington Post * Broken Heartlands digs into the fabric of the post-industrial communities that only make headlines at election time and challenges received wisdom and lazy myths * Literary Review * It's difficult to become a Westminster institution and be a successful leader writer on the Financial Times before you're 30, but Sebastian Payne has achieved both -- Iain Dale, author of The Prime Ministers
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