Jeremy Corbyn: How Labour will transform Yorkshire's fortunes

Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Scarborough.Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Scarborough.
Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in Scarborough.
YORKSHIRE has always been the beating heart of Britain. From the coal mines in South and West Yorkshire that fuelled the Industrial Revolution to the renewable revolution taking hold on the Humber, this county continues to drive this country forward.

Labour has always been passionate about redistributing power and wealth across our nations and regions. Our regional development agencies – developed by former Hull East MP John Prescott – played a huge part in getting the region moving. For every £1 spent on the RDAs, £4 of economic activity was generated.

But under the Conservatives, Yorkshire has been held back from reaching its full potential. George Osborne abolished the RDAs, scrapped the Northern Way and cut council budgets by 40 per cent.

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They didn’t devolve power. They devolved austerity. Our country is now completely out of balance. The North-South divide in income, jobs and pay is increasing faster than ever. And that divide is being widened by deliberate government policy.

Spending on transport is completely biased against the North. Over the next few years, this Government plans to spend £1,943 per person on transport projects in London. But in Yorkshire, it will spend just £190 per person, less than a tenth of what’s being spent in the capital. Yet the corridor of northern cities, stretching from Liverpool and Preston in the west to York and Hull in the east, has the potential to become an even greater driver of economic growth. That’s why we want to help develop a true Northern Powerhouse and rebalance power, wealth and opportunity across the country.

Labour would commit to a Crossrail for the North to improve rail links from Merseyside to East Yorkshire. This £10bn commitment from our £250bn National Transformation Fund would mean the journey from Manchester to Leeds would halve to just 25 minutes. Crossrail for the North will become the foundation for a transformed northern economy.

We would also create a regional development bank to provide investment for business and industry. That will be supported by the National Transformation Fund to invest in infrastructure. By being closer to local people and by making decisions based on local needs they will be able to invest billions into new infrastructure projects, boosting the local economy and people’s living standards.

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We will introduce a real living wage, expected to be £10 an hour by 2020, to make sure that everybody is paid a decent wage.

And to ensure Yorkshire businesses get the skilled workforce they need, we will introduce a National Education Service, free at the point of use, by scrapping tuition fees and scrapping college fees for adult learners.

But we will invest in our children’s schools too, making sure that they have the best chance in life, and that our country has the relevant skills for the future. Instead of promoting grammar schools which only help a few at the top whilst holding back the rest, we will make schools inclusive and provide free school meals to all primary school children.

We will also deliver a better deal for pensioners. Since the Conservatives came into office, there are now 300,000 more pensioners in poverty. Now the Tories want to take away the winter fuel allowance, end the triple lock on pensions and introduce a dementia tax, forcing them to pay for their own social care with their own house.

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Labour will not stand by whilst older people in our society are forced to make a decision about whether to heat their house or eat a decent meal.

Labour will keep the triple lock on pensions, keep the winter fuel allowance, and instead of a cruel dementia tax, we will build a National Care Service to provide social care for all, just as the National Health Service provides healthcare for all.

This is the only way to end the scandal of 1.2 million older people not getting the care they need and deserve under the Conservatives. What’s more, we will invest in the NHS, Labour’s proudest creation, to save and care for the service that the Tories have left on its knees.

Labour’s campaign, and our manifesto policies to improve people’s lives, have proven popular. Our campaign is growing in strength every day – I am in Yorkshire today for the fourth time on this campaign, and we get a bigger and better reception each time.

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People are realising that change is possible. They are realising that inequality doesn’t have to exist. Instead of being held back by cuts, our futures can be invested in. We can build a prosperous Britain, and we can all share in that prosperity.

But for change to come, you have to vote for it on June 8. So please vote for a Labour government that will work for the many, and not the few.

Jeremy Corbyn is the Labour leader.