North must find a strong political voice

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Have your say

From: Linda Riordan MP (Halifax) and President, Hannah Mitchell Foundation; Debbie Abrahams MP (Oldham East and Saddleworth); Tony Lloyd MP (Manchester Central); David Heyes MP (Ashton-under-Lyne); Barry Sheerman MP (Huddersfield); Graham Jones MP (Hyndburn); Austin Mitchell MP (Great Grimsby); Jon Cruddas MP (Dagenham and Rainham).

AS MPs mostly representing North of England constituencies, we are increasingly concerned at growing economic disparities within England as a result of cuts in public services, abolition of the regional development agencies, and the coalition-induced recession.

At the same time, the debate over the future of the United Kingdom ignores the growing political marginalisation of the North of England, with a cabinet dominated by southern English politicians who seem to know little, and care even less, of the economic and social problems of the North.

We are very pleased to support the newly-established Hannah Mitchell Foundation, named after an outstanding northern working class socialist and feminist. The Foundation’s core objective, to stimulate debate on the benefits of directly-elected regional government for the North, is very timely.

We need to move on from the pessimism that descended on politicians after the defeat of the referendum for North-East devolution in 2004, and recognise that the UK has changed. Devolution for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland – and London – has been a success.

The North of England needs a stronger say in its own destiny and that first of all requires an extensive debate about the most appropriate forms, learning lessons from across Europe.

As patrons of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, we commend its formation and look forward to the development of a strong Northern voice.

Making a real difference

From: Peter N Taylor, Magnolia Close, Driffield.

WHATEVER happened to the “Made in Britain” policy as applied to all manner of items made in this country midway through the last century?

I recently checked the labels displayed on various items of clothing purchased by me from a leading high street store and discovered that all of the items were in fact made overseas in the following countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

With a fluctuating unemployment figure prevailing in this country at the moment surely, it would be within the realms of possibility for items of this nature to be manufactured in the UK again.

Last week I purchased a bag of dogfood. The following wording accompanied by the Union Flag was displayed on the side of the package “Proudly Made in Britain”.

Need I say more ?

Technical difficulties

From: John Senior, Birchfield Grove, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield.

HOW sad to hear that the Secretary of State for Education, whether intentionally or otherwise, is devaluing technical education. From what we have heard from the media recently, most people will assume, incorrectly, that academic subjects are very worthwhile whilst technical subjects are hardly worth considering.

This is exactly what occurred in the late 1940s/early 50s; the intended tri-partite system of education became bi-partite as more and more technical schools converted to grammar schools because the former were considered to be inferior to the latter. Surely if an “Engineering Diploma” at 16-plus includes English, mathematics and science at a level equivalent to GCSE grade C or above, then why shouldn’t it be equivalent to four GCSEs at grade C or above? It is a pity that so many influential people in the media and government come with the baggage of an “arts” educational background.

Balancing the books

From: Coun Stephen Baines, Leader, Calderdale MBC.

IN reply to J Anderson’s letter (Yorkshire Post, February 3), may I point out that the Conservative Group accepted the wishes of the people in 2009 and a vote in council to retain the Halifax Central Library in its current position was supported by all political parties, changing the position agreed in 2008 by all parties.

The Conservative Party has not changed from that point of view and we believe that a new library would not be cost-effective, however, both the Labour and Liberal Democrats appear to have changed their minds again.

I would also point out that we believe the Heath buildings are a much used resource and should not be sold off to finance the new library.

A feast of quality TV

From: Dr Sheila Hopkinson, Gorman Close, Chesterfield.

I WOULD like to take Jayne Dowle to task over for her column headlined “How television has become an empty vessel” (Yorkshire Post, February 6).

I agree that there is a dearth of good programmes on the main channels but I feel that BBC4 alone is worth having a TV set for.

Look at the feast which is on offer from Scandinavia. Wallander; The Killing 1 and 2, Borgen. Real programmes for grown-up people. Good story lines; well written; superb acting; appropriate background music, which stays in the background!

If France is your preferred destination, there is The Spiral, another really grown-up “cop” series.

All the programmes treat the viewer as intelligent human beings. We also have Jonathan Meades’ superb programmes on France; the series on the Symphony. I could go on and on. So, Jayne, there are programmes on TV which are worth watching.

I am afraid we are not all up to the latest technology for our entertainment but, speaking as an 81-year-old, as long as I can get access to Radio 4 and BBC4 my days are not too bleak.