Voters would cast aside party ties for real investment in the North, survey finds

The politicians who are most likely to deliver real change for people of the North and rebalance the economy are more likely to gain votes in Yorkshire - regardless of their political party.

That was the finding of a new wide-ranging survey, which revealed the vast majority of northerners back the Power Up The North campaign launched by key northern newspapers including The Yorkshire Post.

The survey, commissioned by One Powerhouse, a consortium representing business, government and civil society figures and think-tank the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), found three quarters of people think there is a big difference between the North and other regions in England.

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And 53 per cent were more likely to vote for candidates who pledge more investment in the North.

Sir Hugh Sykes, Chairman of the One Powerhouse Consortium. Picture: Chris EtchellsSir Hugh Sykes, Chairman of the One Powerhouse Consortium. Picture: Chris Etchells
Sir Hugh Sykes, Chairman of the One Powerhouse Consortium. Picture: Chris Etchells

Some 70 per cent thought the North got a bad deal from government, just five per cent thought this was not the case.

All of the UK’s major parties have pumped resources into winning northern votes in next week’s General Election. The region represents a quarter of the electorate and will be critical in deciding the outcome, especially in the so-called red wall of leave-leaning Labour-held seats which could swing to the Conservatives.

Sir Hugh Sykes, Chairman of the One Powerhouse Consortium, said: "It isn’t right that where you’re born should determine your life chances.”

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The survey also found just 11 per cent thought the North got its fair share of cash, 66 per cent thought the economy would be stronger with a regional strategy for economic growth, and

It also found 32 per cent think HS2 will benefit their area, while 43 per cent think the same about HS3, also known as Northern Powerhouse Rail between major northern cities.

Ed Cox, Director of Public Services and Communities at the RSA, said: “Infrastructure and the North’s economic potential will rightly be at the forefront of northern voters’ minds on Thursday, and the Power Up The North campaign has been crucial to this success.

“It is right that untapped northern potential is at the forefront of both political parties and voters’ minds, but infrastructure investment is only one part of the mix. We need a new northern economy, powered by northern citizens rather than Whitehall.

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“Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London all have their own economic roadmaps. England’s regions need the same – England itself is too large to really plan at the right level where a mix of local and regional expertise is needed.

“This is why we need to see all political parties now commit to putting power as well as resources to the North.”

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “From the chaos on our railways last May to the educational underachievement of those from the most disadvantaged homes - the North has real issues that need to be addressed at this election. These will be debated today with leading figures from both main parties in Manchester and here in Yorkshire.

“With existing Metro Mayors including Dan Jarvis in Sheffield City Region with a clear mandate, and further extension of elected mayors to areas which have so far missed out promised in this election by both those seeking to become our next Prime Minister, and for the Northern Powerhouse to avoid becoming top down rather than bottom up, I would caution against pursuing spatial planning for the North as an immediate priority.

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“We need 100 per cent devolution as a pre-requisite, so that we get the full benefits of elected leaders making their locally-led decisions to link up transport, housing, jobs growth and wider social considerations to drive any such approach.”