Launched on the 8th July at our flagship Finding True North conference in Salford, A Manifesto for the North is our vision for the region harnessing further devolved powers; culturally vibrant and with the benefits of economic growth accrued to all. With keynote speakers including Greg Clark MP, James Wharton MP and Dan Jarvis MP, the conference and manifesto marks the start of our dedicated ResPublica North unit.
Commenting on the manifesto, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “This is an important and thought-provoking Manifesto that deserves to be carefully considered. The Government will work closely with partners across the North to devolve more power to people and places in order to realise our ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse.”
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse James Wharton MP added: “I welcome the active debate around the future direction and evolution of the Northern Powerhouse. Congratulations to ResPublica for this contribution, it is an important project and has the potential to deliver real long term benefits to our economy.”
There have been too many platitudes written about the North, and too many partial and piecemeal policies that have done little to reverse the decades of decline. For years, a combination of indifference and fatalism has left local leaders with a monopoly on power content to administer decline, and thus they must share some of the blame.
Of all the post-war innovations and attempts at reversing abject decline, the Northern Powerhouse has come closest to what is needed. With its mixture of place-based devolution and connectivity, it has at last created an international brand and vision that has shifted the perception of what might be possible. In this way it has finally created the vehicle that might serve as a conduit for massive private sector investment.
These are welcome developments, but we must go further and faster. For instance, on transport we must get going on a direct high-speed east to west line. More generally, the city-region devolution deals should be seen as an opening not a final offer from central government – with the decentralisation of investment decisions greatly expanded in scope and scale.
Post-Brexit, we must not lose the north once more. We must maintain the urgent reinvention of our country. We must demand from those who would be our leaders that they mirror their paeans to social justice with a New Deal for the North, a new deal equal in scale and ambition to what FDR offered a struggling America in the 1930’s.
Nothing less will do, nothing less will deliver. During the 19th century life in the North was fundamentally changed as prosperity and widespread economic growth was attained. It has achieved this transformation once before and it can do so again. ResPublica offers the ideas herein as its contribution to the promise, and resurrection, of the North.