Chris Millward suggests what the breach of Wakefield’s ‘red wall’ might mean for England’s universities
The by-election result in Wakefield on 23 June suggests that people in the ‘red wall’—the seats across England’s north and midlands that the Conservatives gained in the 2019 general election—have become less convinced about the party’s ability to ‘level up’ their towns than about its behavioural failings.
The result reminded me of a phone call I had with the constituency’s MP in 2010. Wakefield was among a number of towns seeking a university presence, to be achieved by bringing in an established university to work with Wakefield College. The MP wanted to know how she could secure a firm commitment from the desired university partner and how the English funding council could broker it.