The Northern Powerhouse has made Manchester ‘the London of the North’, former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has claimed.
The former Hull East MP told The Yorkshire Post that Manchester was soaking up the majority of the benefits of devolved spending and power in the North of England and that Yorkshire needed to develop its own strategy to benefit from a changing industrial landscape.
Speaking ahead of a speech in Leeds Lord Prescott, who served in Tony Blair’s cabinet for a decade and who is a long-standing advocate of devolution, also questioned the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships, saying they lacked the resource and powers to affect meaningful change.
During his time in Government Lord Prescott unsuccessfully tried to introduce regional assemblies in Yorkshire, the North West and the North East but the plans were scrapped after a referendum in the latter region comprehensively rejected the proposal in 2004.
He said: “I am a supporter of devolution. I think it worked for Scotland, Wales and for London.
“But we haven’t done that -w e cannot even agree on whether we should have a common mayor.
“I am not a mayor fan but this is part of it.
“In fact when the Government gave us Northern devolution they gave us Northern Powerhouse, which means turn Manchester into the London of the North.
“We had three RDAs (Regional Development Industries) to develop the whole northern economy. We now have 11 LEPs, they don’t have the resources and they don’t have the powers.
“Government have now shown changes which are important, and need to get involved with them.”
Lord Prescott made his remarks at the Made in Yorkshire Exhibition at Elland Road in Leeds in which he talked about the potential benefit the region could draw from an increasing market for renewable energy.
He said that the Humber estuary was well-placed to deliver on this but stressed the need for a unified plan to involve the whole region.
“We need to have Yorkshire plan,” he said.
“You can have a national one but frankly it’s never worked for us, and that’s why I believe in devolution. Scotland, Wales and London have all done it a lot better.
“We need a regionally developed strategy and we have got to get it together ourselves.”
He added: “Yorkies always divide among themselves. I know people laughed when Cameron said they can’t agree among themselves in Yorkshire but there’s an element of truth to it isn’t there?
“There is an element of independence in the Yorkshire character. But that is a strength, not a weakness.
“The weakness we do have is that we don’t have a common industrial strategy.
“The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts, but we are still wrapped in the sum of the parts.
“We are still wrapped in that bit of Yorkshire independence that makes us want rows but not agreements.
“We better change that attitude as the next industrial revolution will be based on will be based on renewables.
“We have got that, for God’s sake we have got to tell people about it.”