UK Politics

The Great North Vote

Alarmist headline but interesting story in the Daily Telegraph about Northern regional government.

I’d be very surprised if the Barnett formula were to be altered so quickly as part of the regional government deal but what is good news (for those of us who support increasing self-government for the North) is that Labour appears ready to make a real effort in the referendums in the region.

John Prescott is championing his plans for regional assemblies by emphasising northern “pride” – something that will deepen concern about the break-up of England.

Today he will begin a tour of the three regions – the North East, the North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside – chosen for referendums on whether to set up elected assemblies.

He is trying to drum up support for a “yes” result in what officials call the Great North Vote in the autumn. However, the Government has yet to publish legislation setting out the precise powers of the assemblies.

According to the minutes obtained by the Conservative Party, Mr Prescott told a private meeting in Whitehall before Christmas that he “hoped to see an increasing level of co-operation across the North of England as a whole, where the power of the regional voice – representing over 15 million people – would be difficult to ignore in London”.

Great North Vote, Northern Pride – I like it. Sorry if it upsets the sensibilities of some southerners (or as the Telegraph puts it “deepens concerns”) but this really is the best way to win support for assemblies.

You simply are not going to win popular support for devolution in the North on the basis of Mandelson or someone spouting think-tank jargon about “constutional settlements, empowerment and joined-up government”.

Prescott talking to Yorkshiremen, Lancastrians and Geordies about Northern Pride, about Whitehall not being able to ignore the voice of 15 million people about a Fair Deal for the North, now that might just get the Yes vote out.

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