Sounds like an election winner

A Labour government would break up the Treasury and create a new devolved unit in the north of England, the shadow chancellor has said.

John McDonnell said the £250bn unit would be responsible for improving national infrastructure, including overhauling the north’s creaking transport system.

More money for chippy northerners.

Hmm, gosh, doesn’t Labour’s possibility of gaining power depend upon keeping their northern city fastnesses?

14 comments on “Sounds like an election winner

  1. An initiative I shall call the Northern Moneypile. How does he know it’s 250bn? How does he plan to close all the bad factories while keeping all the ‘jobs’.

  2. When I heard some nonce on R4 banging on about miners and Maggie in one breath, saying how evil she was, then in the next breath lauding Saint Caroline for pledging to stop using coal RIGHT NOW I almost wept.

  3. Isn’t Labour’s key to power keeping the North poor, while blaming it on evil southern Tory bastards?

    If the north gets rich, they might start voting Tory.

  4. Translation: “we haven’t been able to infiltrate them as we have other Government departments, so we’ll just break them up and create new ones with our supporters in place from the start”

  5. I don’t think the voters really care what the gubmint does. I will say I think Prescott’s vision of a northern megalopolis from Liverpool to Hull* had something going for it, but you first have to make the whole place liveable, not just pockets in Manchester and Leeds.

    I always preferred living in the north over the south, but I’m an odd one, I know.

    *: well, ideally you would leave out Hull.

    And Rotherham.

    And Bootle.

  6. I’m from the north, but have lived in the south for over 40 years, because that’s where the jobs are. But ideally, I’d get a job with national pay scales and work in the north, where my money would go roughly twice as far*.

    * Yes, most such scales have a small extra uplift for southern workers and a significantly larger one for those in London (no thanks). But they don’t really compensate for the full extra cost of living darn sarf.

  7. “doesn’t Labour’s possibility of gaining power depend upon keeping their northern city fastnesses?”

    Yep… and look at all the region has achieved under their watch

  8. “including overhauling the north’s creaking transport system.”

    The north really doesn’t have a transport problem, because northern cities (and midland cities) aren’t like London. London is a lot like a doughnut with housing outside and people travelling in. Because they’re more industrial and engineering, there’s factories on the outskirts as well as office stuff outside. People often travel around, rather than in.

    And it’s one massive place that pulls from around it. Far more people travel Reading to London each morning than the other way. The North isn’t like that. OK, Manchester has more gravity than Liverpool, but it isn’t like London/Reading. People travel in various directions, although people don’t seem to commute in the same way. They’ll work in Manchester, but live in Altrincham or Warrington. There isn’t the same house price concentration.

    The train lobby bang on about the speed of cross-pennine services but I went from Manchester to Bradford for a meeting once, and we just drove. Almost traffic free the whole way.

  9. BiG,

    Yeah. The north has problems, but HS2 isn’t going to help Barnsley or Sunderland. Nor will various sorts of government wank. The main beneficiaries of government wank are the wankers in government in London who do all the paperwork. It’s like the major benefit of renovating the opera house isn’t about providing entertainment to people, it’s all the jobs for glaziers, carpenters, architects and so forth.

    The best way to help the north would be to get government more local, with real powers. Not Londoners spending money on the north (which means lots of London jobs managing it), but the money goes direct. Or we go back to what seemed sensible in the past, of councils raising most of their funding.

    That said, I reckon things like remote working are going to rebalance the economy over the next decade. I bet that right now, there’s geeks out there who’ve figured out they can buy a house in Stoke for £60K. £200/month, or if you pay £450/month, you’re mortgage free by the time you’re 35. Not sure it’s the prettiest place around, but nor is about 90% of London. And they’ve got Netflix, Amazon, even Waitrose.

  10. The north has a massive transport infrastructure problem, truly massive. You really can’t appreciate how shit it is unless you have had to rely on it.

    A lot of big cities close together with more or less picturesque villages (challenging geography) in between creates insanely complicated commuter flows, not your typical burb-to-centre (train) and belt-to-industrial estate (bus) stuff.

    The rail service is abysmal. Britain’s third and fourth cities by population, Sheffield and Manchester, connected by a half-hourly two-car diesel that trundles at walking pace for half the journey. I’ve commuted that.

    The bus service is abysmal. 48 million companies compete with penny prices on the saturated student stretch in Manchester, but go one main road back in either direction, to the A34 or Princess Parkway and a ticket to town is four quid on the mandatory route run as an obligatory service by the biggest of those 48 million companies, that turns up when they feel like it. Commuted both of those too.

    Sheffield to Huddersfield, forget trying that on public transport. I think it was, like everything around Liverpool on the correct side of the Pennines, a once-hourly Thatcher “rail subsidy road investment” special, two-axle one-car arthritis-inducing bus-on-rails journey of over an hour.

  11. Barnsley is beyond help.

    HS2 only makes sense if it becomes an integral part of the European rail network (yes, without the stupid security shit and check in times at St. Pancras, changing trains, worn-out puke-stained Eurostar rolling stock, etc, which will never happen*). Which looks more obsolete with every passing day from the British perspective. Even then I am certain the money can be better spent elsewhere. Britain has a huge first-mover disadvantage in rail things.

    * There is a Eurostar depot at Longsight a few miles south of Man Piccadilly station, dating from the time that they were planning to run through trains between the continent and the north. This is going back a few years now, but platforms 11 and 12 were out of action for some time as they thought about how to do all the border crap there. Never happened.

  12. BiG,

    My problem with rail is that top to bottom, almost no-one gives a shit. Everything costs fucking billions at the top: “Give us moar money”. The unions whine about the smallest bits of reorganisation. “Give us moar money”. And they can’t do simple things like make sure card readers on trolley service work.

    There’s plenty of money in rail to build more lines. £120 from Swindon to London. But the available cash goes to the staff, who operate like a monopoly. If there’s money there, they’ll take it, or they go on strike. It’s why the TOCs operate on a small margin. If the TOCs ever had a bumper year, the workers would go on strike demanding pay rises and grab the extra money. The TOCs can’t do anything about it.

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