Tuesday, 8 June 2010


CHRIS DRAPER in Northern Voices No.10 [Summer/ Autumn 2009] claimed of his top 'Six o' Best' Northern Towns that three of them - York, Leeds and Scarborough - were in Yorkshire. Yesterday's Yorkshire Post quoted a report by the Centre for Cities think-tank as identifying a serious 'jobs deficit' of 69,000 facing Yorkshire as a whole: 69,000 'lost' jobs. It shows that even before the recession hit that many areas were struggling with Barnsley, Doncaster, Bradford, Hull and Huddersfield losing private sector jobs. Now says the Yorkshire Post: Hull and Sheffield face a combine deficit of almost 40,000 jobs - almost 20,000 each. The fear now is that as public sector cuts are threaten another 'North-South divide' could develop. The Deputy Prime Minister and the MP for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg, said at the weekend that he was determined to avoid the mistakes of the 1980s, which led to a huge gulf in job prospects between the North and the South. Clegg told his audience: 'We'll take good measures so these cities in the North, our great Northern cities, are given the support they need.'

None-the-less, it seems that outside of places like York (that came top town in Chris Draper's article) the region east of the Pennines has missed out on the New Labour boom. Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Research North has called on the northern regions to 'carve out their own futures, define their own regional economic identities and transform their public services'. An editorial in the Yorkshire Post argues that Brown's claim to have abolished boom and bust is 'increasingly hollow' and that there are some places where the Brown boom never happened. It goes on to call for a clearing away of the 'regulatory thickets [and red tape] that have been strangling the private sector'. This may of course be code for an attack on health and safety regulations at work.

The difficulty is, as the Financial Times editorial suggested last Saturday, that down South there are 'The stifling cliques of Westminster' that rule us: 'Nepotism is, thankfuly, no longer an everyday feature of public life. But the political gene pool is still too narrow. The state is controlled by a tightknit professional class.' Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer came out of the Conservative Party secretariat (David Cameron worked briefly as a PR executive). Then, we learn that the four leading candidates for the Labour leadership (though representing Northern constituencies) come from what the FT calls 'the nomenklatura' and the editor goes on to to say: 'Britain is run by white men, roughly 40 years old, with little or no experience outside national politics.'

The FT claims the road in Britain to power is clear: 'There is now a well worn path from 20-something bag-carrier to 30-something MP.' The result is a highly centralised system with 'few rivil routes in local government through which politicians can rise.' Hence, there is little hope of regions like Yorkshire carving out its own identity or being liberated in a centralised political regime like this, were all the politicians look much the same however they try to make themselves look different when elections beckon.

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