Party leaders are today being challenged to prove their “credibility” to voters in the North, as the region sets out its list of demands for the next government.
Among the top priorities for local businesses and campaigners are a clear commitment on devolution, guaranteed investment in HS3 and an overhaul of the region’s broadband infrastructure.
The new “manifesto for the North” comes as parties prepare to ramp up their general election campaigns ahead of the June 8 vote. And politicians are being urged to use the opportunity to show voters they are listening to the region’s concerns.
“From the North of England, it is difficult to see the forthcoming snap General Election as much more than political game-playing in the Westminster bubble,” said IPPR North director Ed Cox.
“However, it would be difficult to underestimate the importance of this election for the future of the North of England.
“What is at stake is not so much whether the North can prise out promises for its citizens to improve their lot, but more whether the national political parties can maintain their relevance and credibility to a population increasingly aware of Westminster’s limitations.
“This General Election, whether warranted or not, presents all the political parties with an opportunity to show that they have heard these concerns.”
Constituencies in Yorkshire are set to be a key battleground in the weeks ahead, as both the Tories and Lib Dems look to gain ground in traditional Labour heartlands, The main parties are yet to publish their official 2017 manifestos, but Labour have already set out a number of proposals, including new targets on regional investment and the creation of a Bank of the North.
In a recent interview with the Yorkshire Post, Conservative Party leader Theresa May indicated her ongoing support for policies on devolution and investment in northern transport infrastructure.
The IPPR suggests guarantees on post-Brexit trade, East-West rail links and devolution should all feature highly in party manifestos if they want to show they are serious about boosting “northern prosperity”.
Steven Leigh, head of policy and at Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, adds broadband and support for flood-hit businesses to the list. He told the paper: “It is essential that the new government should completely overhaul the UK’s physical and digital infrastructure.” Gerald Jennings, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce said: “Investment in infrastructure is crucial for productivity.. Thought should also be given to broadband and mobile connectivity.”