North­ern vot­ers ‘to set aside loy­al­ties to par­ties’

Elec­tors ‘think re­gion gets bad deal from White­hall’

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - GERAL­DINE SCOTT WEST­MIN­STER COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: geral­dine.scott@jpi­me­ ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

VOT­ERS IN the North will set aside their party al­le­giances to put their faith in Gen­eral Elec­tion can­di­dates they be­lieve will tackle the na­tion’s glar­ing re­gional in­equal­i­ties, a lead­ing think-tank has claimed.

A new wide-rang­ing sur­vey re­vealed the vast ma­jor­ity of North­ern­ers backed the Power Up The North cam­paign launched by a host of the re­gion’s lead­ing news­pa­pers, in­clud­ing The York­shire Post, ear­lier this year.

The sur­vey, com­mis­sioned by One Pow­er­house, a con­sor­tium rep­re­sent­ing busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety fig­ures and the think-tank, the Royal So­ci­ety for the en­cour­age­ment of Arts, Man­u­fac­tures and Com­merce (RSA), found three-quar­ters of peo­ple think there is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween the North and other re­gions in Eng­land. And 53 per cent of vot­ers were more likely to opt for can­di­dates who pledge more in­vest­ment in the North.

The RSA’s direc­tor of pub­lic ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ties, Ed Cox, said: “In­fra­struc­ture and the North’s eco­nomic po­ten­tial will rightly be at the fore­front of vot­ers’ minds on Thurs­day, and the Power Up The North cam­paign has been cru­cial to this suc­cess.

“It is right that un­tapped North­ern po­ten­tial is at the fore­front of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties and vot­ers’ minds, but in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment is only one part of the mix. We need a new North­ern econ­omy, pow­ered by North­ern cit­i­zens rather than White­hall.”

Some 70 per cent of those ques­tioned thought the North got a bad deal from the Gov­ern­ment, and just five per cent be­lieved this was not the case.

All of the UK’s ma­jor par­ties are bat­tling for North­ern votes.

The re­gion rep­re­sents a quar­ter of the electorate and will be crit­i­cal in de­cid­ing the out­come, es­pe­cially in the “red wall” of leave-lean­ing Labour-held seats that could swing to the To­ries.

Sir Hugh Sykes, the chair­man of the One Pow­er­house Con­sor­tium, said: “It isn’t right that where you’re born should de­ter­mine your life chances.”

The sur­vey also found just 11

We need a new north­ern econ­omy, pow­ered by North­ern cit­i­zens.

Ed Cox, direc­tor of pub­lic ser­vices and com­mu­ni­ties for the RSA.

per cent thought the North got its fair share of cash, and 66 per cent thought the econ­omy would be stronger with a re­gional eco­nomic strat­egy. It also found 32 per cent think HS2 will be of ben­e­fit, while 43 per cent think the same about HS3, also known as North­ern Pow­er­house Rail be­tween ma­jor north­ern cities.

Henri Muri­son, the North­ern Pow­er­house Part­ner­ship’s direc­tor, said: “We need 100 per cent de­vo­lu­tion as a pre-req­ui­site, so that we get the full ben­e­fits of elected lead­ers mak­ing their lo­cally-led decisions.”

IT IS no se­cret that vot­ers in the North of Eng­land will be crit­i­cal in de­ter­min­ing the out­come of this week’s Gen­eral Elec­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the so­called ‘red wall’ of cur­rently Labour-held but Leave­back­ing con­stituen­cies which the Con­ser­va­tives need to win to de­liver Boris John­son a ma­jor­ity.

But while the im­por­tance of the re­gion from an elec­toral per­spec­tive has been clear to all ma­jor par­ties as they pump re­sources into re­tain­ing and win­ning seats, vot­ers of all po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions liv­ing in the North are widely con­vinced they are cur­rently be­ing let down by West­min­ster and White­hall and back the Power Up The North cam­paign launched by this news­pa­per and oth­ers ear­lier this year to re­dress the bal­ance.

A new sur­vey re­veals 70 per cent of re­gional vot­ers think the North gets a bad deal from Gov­ern­ment, with just five per cent be­liev­ing this is not the case. In the short-term over half were more likely to vote for can­di­dates who pledge more in­vest­ment for the North while in the longer term two-thirds want to see the in­tro­duc­tion of a re­gional strat­egy for eco­nomic growth.

One of the re­cur­rent themes of this elec­tion has been the break­down of tra­di­tional party al­le­giances as part of the con­tin­u­ing fall­out to the 2016 Brexit ref­er­en­dum, as many turn away from par­ties they and their fam­i­lies have sup­ported through­out their lives. It means all par­ties have a golden op­por­tu­nity to win over wa­ver­ing vot­ers in the North by tack­ling the na­tion’s glar­ing re­gional in­equal­i­ties.

What­ever Gov­ern­ment is formed as a re­sult of Thurs­day’s elec­tion, it is vi­tal that the grand prom­ises which will un­doubt­edly come from all quar­ters in the next few days prove to be much more than the empty words they have sadly ended up be­ing in the past. Mean­ing­ful changes must be de­liv­ered af­ter elec­tion­eer­ing comes to an end.

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