Clegg in pledge to restore Northern glories
NICK CLEGG has pledged to help restore Northern manufacturing to its former glory as part of new efforts to “govern for the whole country” following the electoral humiliation suffered by both Coalition parties last week.
Speaking alongside David Cameron on the Coalition’s second anniversary, the Deputy Prime Minister said the “one very important lesson” to take from the mauling inflicted by voters upon the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats across the North of England, Wales and Scotland last Thursday was that more must be done to support areas beyond London and the South.
The Lib Dem leader highlighted manufacturing as a key priority as it “disproportionately helps those parts of the economy in the North of England and elsewhere”.
With clamour growing among backbench Tories and Lib Dems alike for their respective leaders to take tougher lines with their Coalition partners in today’s Queen’s Speech, Mr Cameron used the occasion to re-state the case for the close-knit relationship .
“I think it is as important and necessary today as it was two years ago,” the Prime Minister told factory workers in Essex.
“In the last two years, the Government has done a lot of things that needed to be done. We have cut the deficit, made difficult decisions about spending, about having to increase some taxes.
“Although we might have had different views, we put them aside – we cut the deficit for the good of the economy.”
With rows about the content of the Queen’s Speech continuing around Westminster, sources at the Department for Transport yesterday dismissed suggestions the lack of a High Speed Rail Bill signals a retreat by the Government, pointing to a timetable published in January which makes clear legislation was never due to be introduced until 2013.
“This is an important project for this Government and I am sure it will stay in its priorities,” said Harrogate MP Andrew Jones, who works as an aide to the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening.
Instead, this morning’s speech is expected to centre around a so-called Enterprise Bill that will aim to aid business growth by cutting red tape and relaxing employment regulation.
A long-awaited Grocery Adjudicator Bill will at last introduce a system designed to prevent farmers being exploited by supermarkets, and a Banking Reform Bill will begin to implement a huge shake-up of the industry.
But Mr Clegg said a longer-term goal will be to re-connect with areas outside the South of England by reviving England’s lost manufacturing base.
“It’s not lost on me that where our two parties got a particular beating last week was in Wales, Scotland and the large cities of the North,” the Lib Dem leader said.
“I take one very important lesson from this – we must redouble our efforts as a Coalition Government to govern for the whole country.”
Mr Clegg said the North has for years been reliant on Whitehall subsidies funded by the “explosive growth” of the City of London.
“That economic model basically relied on Governments sucking up to the City of London, basically letting the banks get away with blue murder,” he said.
“They generated huge pots of tax revenue and then that tax revenue was transported up the M1 to public subsidy in other parts of the country.
The merry-go round was fine as long as it kept going round and round. (But) it has stopped.”
Warning that Northern economies have become “lop-sided”, the Sheffield Hallam MP said: “That’s why I believe so passionately in investing more in manufacturing – because that disproportionately helps those parts of the economy in the North and elsewhere.”
Comment: Page 12.
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