STRAIGHT TALK­ING Time to nar­row North/South gap


Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

A RE­PORT by the think-tank Cen­tre for Cities has just told us some­thing we all knew – the North/South di­vide in this coun­try is widen­ing.

The study found for ev­ery 12 jobs cre­ated in south­ern cities since 2004, only one was cre­ated in the North.

Eco­nomic growth has also been driven by the South, which means when the gov­ern­ment speaks of the “eco­nomic re­cov­ery” it means bug­ger all to many work­ing peo­ple in north­ern towns and cities.

The re­port also un­sur­pris­ingly found that whilst jobs cre­ated in Lon­don in the same pe­riod rose by 17 per cent, they ac­tu­ally fell by 10 per cent in places like Black­pool and Rochdale. All this gets right on my wick. The rea­son why the South – and by that I re­ally mean Lon­don – is tak­ing off is be­cause that’s where all the Lon­don-based politi­cians al­lo­cate the money.

Take for ex­am­ple the fact that in Lon­don £1,500 per head is spent on in­fra­struc­ture in com­par­i­son to just over £200 per head for the North East.

Con­sider that HS2 – a high speed white ele­phant that will cost the Bri­tish tax­payer around £80 bil­lion – is be­ing con­structed for the ben­e­fit of Lon­don and will suck even more life out of the econ­omy of the North.

All gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and all the me­dia out­lets, with the ex­cep­tion of THIS pa­per and the BBC’s empty ges­ture Me­di­aCity in Sal­ford, are Lon­don-based.

It’s Lon­don, Lon­don, bloody Lon­don.

And it’s just get­ting worse as the cap­i­tal’s pop­u­la­tion grows due to un­con­trolled mass im­mi­gra­tion, and the city’s ten­ta­cles spread ever wider.

You might have thought when Labour were in power be­tween 1997 and 2010 they would have tried to ad­dress this prob­lem, as most of the north­ern MPs were Labour – in­clud­ing the then Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair.

But no, they ac­tu­ally made things even worse.

Dur­ing that time the gap be­tween rich and poor ac­tu­ally got wider and the North/South di­vide ex­panded, which is crim­i­nal con­sid­er­ing that this was once the party of the work­ers.

And don’t for one nanosec­ond think the Tories are go­ing to do any­thing about it. They are a pri­mar­ily south­ern English party, with mainly south­ern MPs, that see no real po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal in pan­der­ing to the North.

More­over, don’t for­get this is the party that wanted to see my city Liver­pool go into “man­aged de­cline” in the 1980s. Some friends of the North!

I’m not in favour of de­volv­ing power to the re­gions, as I don’t want to see the breakup of Eng­land, but some­thing has to be done to re­dress the bal­ance and stop Lon­don suck­ing the life-blood out of the rest of the coun­try.

For a start I think gov­ern­men­tal de­part­ments need to be re­lo­cated across the coun­try. Why not move the De­part­ment of Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport to Manch­ester or Leeds?

We could move the De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs out to some­where a bit, well, more ru­ral.

If the next gov­ern­ment does not move to right the past wrongs in­flicted on the North, then I fear re­sent­ment to­wards Lon­don will in­crease and the English re­gions will even­tu­ally go their own way.

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