The Manifesto for the North, which The Yorkshire Post and other regional titles across a vast swathe of northern England are publishing, is a comprehensive agenda for action on the part of the new Government to transform the lives of the 15.4m people who live here.
It is a call to arms that builds on the Power Up the North campaign, launched by this newspaper and other titles in June, which laid bare the disgraceful neglect and lack of investment which we have suffered for too long and demanded change. The case we made was inarguable. It is nothing short of scandalous that the Government – in common with its predecessors – should have starved this great region of resources, dragged its feet on devolved powers and failed to improve a transport system not fit for the 21st Century. The inequalities we highlighted have already resulted in real improvements. The Northern Powerhouse Minister, hitherto little more than a mannequin figure with neither real power nor influence, now has a seat at the Cabinet table. But that is not nearly enough.
Much more needs to be done if the North is to achieve its true potential as Britain’s Powerhouse – and let us never forget, especially during a general election campaign about the future of our country, that giving the North the means to forge ahead benefits the entire nation. The grotesque scale of the unfairness we are suffering is still all too apparent. On transport alone, the North has missed out on £63bn of funding compared to London over the past decade. This is utterly unacceptable, and amounts to treating northern businesses and commuters who rely on the transport system as inferior to their counterparts in the capital.
That must change, and the manifesto produced by the business-led NP11 builds on the momentum of Power Up the North to draw up a transformative new deal. Its five-point plan is a clarion call for the North which sets out a way forward that a new Government should embrace if it is to command the confidence of voters.
We must be given control of education and skills. There needs to be a Treasury commitment to rebalancing the economy and a transport budget that gives us full control of the network. And we demand the freedom to lead investment and trade to drive growth, whilst becoming prime movers in the green industrial revolution. This newspaper is more determined than ever to speak up for the North, to press the case for its people and industry, and achieve justice. The General Election is an opportunity to bring about fundamental change for the better, and the Manifesto for the North sets out how. It is now over to the parties to commit to this manifesto’s objectives. In doing so, they should take to heart one unmistakeable and uncompromising message – we will no longer stand for the wilful neglect of the North and its people.