IT WOULD certainly be advantageous to the Yorkshire economy if the Humber ports could handle more lorries in the future – such a move would certainly lessen Britain’s over-reliance on those Channel crossings that have ground to a halt as a consequence of the Calais migrants crisis. The Port of Hull still has huge potential.
Yet recent events hare also shown the extent to which this Government is taking the road haulage industry for granted. Like dairy farmers, this is another neglected industry now fighting for its very existence, not least because of the ability of foreign firms to take advantage of cheaper fuel costs on the Continent before plying their trade on these shores.
It is a state of affairs exacerbated by the disruption caused to those lorry firms whose drivers have had the misfortune to be caught up in the chaos in Calais where they have had to run the gauntlet of those asylum seekers prepared to resort to desperate means to reach this country.
This is not the fault of those drivers, and hauliers, who are the subject of harsh financial penalties if illegal immigrants are detected on their vehicles. The fault rests with the collective failure of past and present governments to provide adequate security at the Channel ports.
However, the lengthy delays, illustrated by the M20 being turned into a makeshift car park on a regular basis as part of Operation Stack, only make it more difficult for haulage firms to remain in business, a point which still seems to be lost on those Ministers tasked with responding to this issue. They continue to forget the lessons of September 2000 when this country was brought to its knees by a fuel blockade instigated by hauliers protesting against punitive costs. Without lorries being able to deliver goods to supermarkets and so on, this country will not be able to function properly. It’s that fundamental.
100 days on the political roller-coaster
HOW times change. The 100 days prior to the May 7 election revolved around Britain’s future prospects if Labour – propped up by the Scottish Nationalists – were entrusted with the country’s finances as the opinion polls pointed to Ed Miliband gaining power.
Now the Doncaster North MP is a footnote in political history and the past 100 days have revolved around whether Labour will ever be electable if the left-winger Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership race, or whether some of the party’s more moderate voices look to form some sort of alliance with the remnants of the Liberal Democrats.
Yet, while this disarray has been greeted with glee by some senior Tories who believe they are guaranteed power for the foreseeable future, David Cameron’s government does need to guard against complacency. It still needs to convince voters in the North about the merits of its well-meaning One Nation agenda, a task made more difficult by the decision to ‘pause’ the electrification of key rail routes in Yorkshire.
Furthermore, Mr Cameron is only just beginning his re-negotiation with the EU while George Osborne, the Prime Minister’s most likely successor at this point in time, still has to implement the next tranche of welfare reforms. These are huge challenges fraught with difficulty and will become more so as speculation increases about the Tory leader’s future after he signalled – unwisely – that he would not seek a third term. In this regard, the issues have not changed for the Tories – or Labour. The politicians most likely to prosper are those who can prove both their trustworthiness and their financial competence.
Protecting prince George
THERE is a world of difference between the responsible manner in which the British media, including The Yorkshire Post, report on Prince George and Princess Charlotte and the reprehensible actions of foreign-based paparazzi photographers who were accused of hounding Diana, Princess of Wales, to her death.
Not only are their tactics endangering the safety of George and Charlotte, both of whom have a right to personal privacy, but it will also make Kensington Palace – and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in particular – think twice about the regular and carefully planned public appearances that the family undertake in his country with the media’s co-operation. Sadly, there will always be a voracious appetite for images of the young royals, but the mercenary tactics of the paparazzi must not take precedence over George and Charlotte’s wellbeing. Has nothing been learned since the tragic events of August 1997?