A Northern powerhouse needs private investment too

Manchester grew prosperous on the cotton industry. At its peak there were 108 cotton mills in the city, and fortunes to be made in designing, spinning, weaving, garment making, selling and financing. Sheffield has long been famous for its cutlery. It pioneered new steel making techniques and sells Sheffield plate to the world. Leeds grew as a large woollen textile centre with a range of services for the Yorkshire industry. Liverpool grew rich and famous on its shipping and transatlantic trades.

The twentieth century was not so kind to many of these industries. Under governments of all persuasions we watched as the wool and cotton industries were challenged by new rivals abroad. The transatlantic liners were largely replaced by airplanes from Heathrow and much of the goods trade shifted to east coast ports. The steel industry also faced new cheaper competitors.

Most of the political debate about a Northern powerhouse is about what government can do for a city, and about who should govern a city. These are important issues. I don’t doubt that good transport links, strong universities, high levels of education and training for local young people, and good housing can help a great city grow and flourish. It may be that local politicians can do a better job than Whitehall at spending the large sums of public money that are on offer, but they will need to prove that by their actions.

There remains the larger question of how are these important cities going to develop and rebuild their private sectors? There are signs of progress, with Manchester’s airport related commercial expansion and with the Leeds financial services developments. To catch up with London all these cities are going to need much larger private sectors, with more modern business activities adding jobs and making profits.

Better rail and road links are needed to export more goods and services to the south, more than to encourage more long distance commuting into the capital. These cities need more higher -priced housing for sale as well as affordable housing to rent, to attract the investors and entrepreneurs. Whilst it is largely up to the private sector to make its own judgements about what it can make and do, the cities that succeed have to show a positive wish to recruit and nurture new business and sometimes need to kickstart sectors or themes for business clusters.

London has recently attracted more hi tec business to the Old Street area by theming Silicon roundabout. Cambridge has been successful at attracting medical and science based businesses to its campus style business parks. The Reading area in recent decades has been successful at attracting a cluster of computer based businesses to the Thames Valley. The Northern Powerhouse can also power ahead by such initiatives. Modern cities cluster excellence and enterprise, just as Manchester has been the foremost technical and financial centre in the world for cotton textiles, and Sheffield was the dominant world leader for steel innovation.


  1. Lifelogic
    September 5, 2015

    Like the rest of the UK the North (where I grew up) just needs the bloated and inept government to get out of the way. Cheap energy, relaxed planning, simpler employment laws, schools and hospital that actually work preferably both charging and in the private sector with government vouchers where needed.

    The last thing they need is Osborne’s moronic wage controls, the EU absurdities and costs, the attacks on landlords and pensions, absurdly complex employment and tax laws, endless parasitic litigation, expensive energy by government religion, the fake “enforced equality” religion and the over regulation of almost everything.

    They also do not need vastly subsidised trains, endless green crap, an artificially subsidised film industry and endless other damaging market distortions. These just create market distortions and artificial industries (that just disappear when these grants stop). They ensure and very poor allocation of capital. Above all just stop over taxing and over inconveniencing them.

    Also get some real competition in banking it is largely a racket at the moment. Deposits (and unsecured) often earning just 0.1% and borrowing at anything from 3%-3000% very often very well secured too. If that is not a sign of a total lack of competition in banking what on earth is?

    Mind you why should banks want to lend to landlords who, thanks to (tax, borrow and piss down the drain) Osborne, cannot now even deduct legitimate interest from taxable profits?

    1. Lifelogic
      September 5, 2015

      Also if business people knew that they would not be robbed of 40% of their assets on death (or earlier transfer), or of 47% of their income and they could build up a decent pension pot they might be rather keener to expand and actually create some wealth.

      The IHT ratter and pension robber Osborne should be fired. His approach of ever higher taxation, ever more complex taxation, ever more market distortions, endless green crap subsidies/artificially expensive energy, his theft from landlords and the likes is just totally the wrong direction to go.

      This as it simply does not work, it kills jobs, creates parasitic non productive jobs, totally mis-allocates capital and destroys wealth creation. He seems not to have picked up any common sense from his Oxford Modern History degree or even from his father.

      Why one wonders does someone, who is clearly a socialist at heart have a child called Liberty? Perhaps it just the Liberty of the government to tax, borrow, waste, inconvenience and misdirect capital and effort that he refers too?

      As in taking a downright liberty with the voters and wealth creators.

      1. turbo terrier
        September 5, 2015

        Life Logic

        1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

        2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

        3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

        4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

        5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

        The above was the result of an experiment regarding Obama and his thinking.

        Not a lot has changed over here.

        Apart from our host is anyone actually listening to the electorate?

    2. stred
      September 5, 2015

      Don’t forget Osborne’s taxes and withdrawl of subsidies are about to close an important Northern Powerhouse at Eggborough, in order to supply his other Powerhouse with lower taxed more expensive and less reliable power.

    3. Lifelogic
      September 5, 2015

      So often the best thing (financially anyway) for many people up North has been to get a safe easy job (with a nice inflation linked pension, lots of sick days, short hours etc.) in the state sector. Often a job harassing, taxing, licencing, motorist mugging or otherwise inconveniencing the wealth creators one way or another. Then get a nice pay off and retire early too.

      The state sector is 50% over remunerated in general, relative to the private sector. In the north, where private sector wages are lower, the differentail is often higher still.

      Make wealth creation more attractive and you will get more wealth creators and jobs and fewer job destroyers and parasites.

    4. Lifelogic
      September 5, 2015

      Interesting to read how several police forces seem to be fitting blue lights & sirens to company cars, so that (even civilian) staff can get the “company” car without paying Osborne’s excessive benefits in kind charges. Large charges that everyone else has to pay.

      One law for you mate (else your nicked) and another for us in the state sector – even if we are only fixing the computer or something similar. Do they pay their parking tickets, bus lane and box junction ticket on these free “company” cars one wonders?

      1. Lifelogic
        September 5, 2015

        Surprising they need many cars now that they do not both to investigate many burglaries, especially at odd numbered houses it seems.

        1. Iain Gill
          September 6, 2015

          Its still better to be an employee of the European commission where you can buy cars tax free. That’s a perk really worth having.

  2. Alte Fritz
    September 5, 2015

    There is no lack of entrepreneurial spirit. Just make it easier to concentrate on the business. Business rates are a major cost once you begin to grow. A lot of overhead before you even start work each day.

  3. Ian wragg
    September 5, 2015

    Northern Powerhouse is a bit of a laugh. This week we learn Egborough power station is to close in March together with the remains of Ferrybridge and Longannet. 10% of reliable energy leading to definite power cuts next year. Who would want to invest when the government has the ridiculous carbon tax on industry.
    You are as bad as the limp dumbs.

    1. bigneil
      September 5, 2015

      Less power available – and an out of control population increase ( despite “tens of thousands” Cameron’s pledges) wanting electricity. – Our trip backwards into the 3rd world is well on its, deliberately engineered, way.

  4. alan jutson
    September 5, 2015

    As you say John the key is innovation to change.

    It is inevitable that some industries die over time, as time and progress marches on.

    Old businesses/industries need to change, adapt and diversify if they are to remain and continue to grow.

    The old sedan chair manufacturer could have grown into the new bodywork plant for cars, railway coaches etc.

    Our problem over the last few decades is that we ignored real engineering and design talent, for so called academic education and theorists, who simply like to talk to other theorists, rather than do.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 5, 2015

      Plus we have the absurdly OTT health and safety and litigation culture and employment regulators destroying jobs and competitivity too.

  5. Ian wragg
    September 5, 2015

    Further to my previous post. When the BBC reported on the closures they said it was to meet UN targets. No mention of the stupid climate change act or EU combustion directive. We now have the state broadcaster lying on your behalf.

    1. Mitchel
      September 5, 2015

      A lot of policies implemented by the EU-immigration,climate change,social issues,etc-originate in the UN.Undemocratic,transnational polities like the EU are the means by which world government is being imposed by stealth-this has been obvious for many years.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 5, 2015

      The BBC has a blatant and totally idiotic agenda. Essentially a pro EU, greencap, ever bigger state, open door immigration, fake “equality” promoting, anti democratic Libdem one.

    3. fedupsoutherner
      September 5, 2015

      Paying subsidies to keep gas and coal power stations open to just idle is ridiculous. The problems are created by government who insist wind energy is taken from the grid first leaving gas and coal to fill in when necessary. With the carbon taxes added it makes no sense to run these power stations even though we need them and they give us a lifeline when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. At the same time we are paying over the odds for the power generated by wind and solar. You couldn’t make it up. We will never get back our industries if we carry on like this.

  6. Iain Gill
    September 5, 2015

    One of my recent customers is a big international garment designer, producer, wholesaler and retailer. Although the brains of the operation are in the UK and USA there is no production done in either of those countries. Nothing you have talked about will change that.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      It’s worth noting that their only jobs in the UK for the “ordinary working person” are in the warehouses (transport is subcontracted). Of the people working in the warehouses over 90 % are from countries which recently joined the EU. Those warehouses are not within commuting distance of the big state funded sink social housing estates which the state keeps funding despite not being within travelling distance of any modern jobs market. They wouldn’t be interested in goods transport by train, as they do that nowhere in the world.
      So the problem is you see even mega successful businesses in this field do not create jobs here for all parts of the British born social spectrum. And really when you understand why they do things the way they do it’s largely as a result of state manipulation around the world forcing them to organise their affairs in that way. More private investment will only generate more businesses operating like this, they need to optimise to make money and this is the proven way to do it.
      So I don’t see how Osbourne’s ideas are going to generate a happy country where success is spread amongst the people.
      All it’s going to do is apply failed models of local government control to state provision in healthcare, social care, and so on. And the people will be left with rubbish provision and no buying power and the state workforce gets more bloated and inefficient.
      So none of these ideas are going to improve things, sadly.

      1. a-tracy
        September 8, 2015

        Absolutely Iain, more examples: business parks built with little public transport connection and what is takes too long for people (one hour to do a 15 minute car journey).
        Business parks with no local shops allowed to be created on it?!
        A Job Centre not fit for purpose and unemployed people no longer seeing available jobs in their area or being matched into them.
        A lack of help for SME’s to get trainees.
        The Labour governments culture of anti-sme employment has continued under the Conservatives.
        All of the new costs on SME’s is slowly sinking in from this October, NMW large increase pushing up pay differentials; 100% Sick pay and sick holiday pay even for micros including to those workers over retirement age who are no longer capable of working; NEST; clients that won’t pay the increasing social costs and opt instead to use the self-employed (many of whom think they need to make no provision for their own possible sick pay needs, nest pension or have employers NI of 12.8% to cover.

        I would prefer it if none of my three children work in the enterprise/business development sector in this Country in the future whether they live in the South or the North.

  7. agricola
    September 5, 2015

    I applaud the development of these areas which have generally been the poor relation to the South East for too long. I do not put their past industrial decline down to the perversity of politics. It’s dirty , labour intensive industries could be better done elsewhere in the World, often starting with the bought up machinery of these areas. The basic lesson is the same as in the past. We need to concentrate on the manufacture of things that are generally beyond the capacity of the rest of the World.

    There is a danger in it all however. The EU and it’s acolytes, those the EU buys off to agree with it, such as the BBC, would have England divided into cantons. Thus divided, perhaps separately financed, they become effectively controlled from Brussels rather than Westminster. You need to be aware of it and ensure that it can never happen.

    There is a second danger. All the joined up green bits that surround these industrial powerhouses contain our agricultural industry, possibly one of the most efficient in the World. This needs a position of equal political status as the powerhouses. It isn’t the factory estates that give the desirable character to what we know as England. It is the villages, the fields, woods, rivers, and mountains. Apart from their productive capacity they are also where people recharge their lives before plunging back to the factory estates. They are very important, make sure they do not get swallowed up or forgotten. They need absolutely equal status.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      I agree “We need to concentrate on the manufacture of things that are generally beyond the capacity of the rest of the World” things where we can produce higher quality or newer technology and command a premium price are the only things a country like the UK can be good at. There have been some examples of workforces which have innovated and play in that premium price arena. It only works though if the local workforce is allowed to keep its best design techniques, improved production processes, and so on. Companies like Rolls Royce keep the intellectual property within the UK, and guard it jealously, that’s why their workforce can compete. Other companies the latest intellectual property generated by the British shopfloor is continually fed to India, China, etc, and in these cases the British workforce eventually ends up out of work. A rethink of how intellectual property protections work, and who owns them, is needed. A lot of intellectual property generated on the British taxpayers tab (by University’s etc) also ends up being used royalty free abroad to undercut the UK.

    2. Excalibur
      September 6, 2015

      Indeed, agricola. Bill Bryson who is an American, wrote when he was President of the Council for Rural England, “I know of no landscape anywhere, that is more universally appreciated, more visited and walked across and gazed upon,more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of England.”
      Beware those who, through political artifice, would take it from us…..

  8. Leslie Singleton
    September 5, 2015

    “airplanes”? Aeroplanes please. This is England

  9. Ralph Musgrave
    September 5, 2015

    “The Northern powerhouse is Southern hot air” – Corbyn. (BTW, I’m not a Corbyn fan and am not taking much interest in the Labour leadership contest, but I do like witty one liners, regardless of where they come from).

  10. brian
    September 5, 2015

    In order to attract the new industries, the target locations must ensure that they are good places to live.

    And may I suggest that Lifelogic, instead of pontificating on every subject from his expat exile, come home and make a contribution to improvements in the national life.

  11. Pete
    September 5, 2015

    The north has suffered from government for the last 100 years. It’s constant interference and meddling has led to the death of the old industry and the strangling of the new. If you really want to encourage new business and create jobs cut red tape, cut taxes, cut employment law. Make a free trade zone where employers can hire and fire at will, pay any wage they want for any hours, pay a very low maintenance charge for local services, pay an ultra local corporation tax and build whatever factories they want. Just watch the boom then. Of course politicians will never do that because everyone would then realise just how harmful government really is.

  12. Bert Young
    September 5, 2015

    If as much interest was shown in the North as Scotland has received , much of the blight would not exist . Investment there is needed to exploit the skills and determination of the people ; Nissan has recently given its approval for an expansion of its car manufacturing (the most effective in this country ) and others need to follow .

    In allocating the resources of this country the Government should not be led astray by the Scottish threat . I would much rather concentrate in helping the Midlands and the North – if necessary at the expense of Scotland ; if the Scots want “independence” , let them have it and when they realise where and how their bread is buttered , they will come back in an Oliver Twist mode .

  13. Shieldsman
    September 5, 2015

    Two days ago you covered Dr Vince Cables failures. His Department should have been revitalising Industry, instead like Davey he pored money into the mythical ‘green jobs’.
    When did we last have anyone in Government with a background of Engineering and Manufacturing skills?
    The Northern Powerhouse relied on its Industrial might, but sadly it has all moved off-shore and will continue to do so. Manufacturing relies on Energy and with the ‘green blob’ in charge, Electricity supply will become unreliable and extremely expensive making our products uncompetitive.
    With the right people in charge there could be a revival of the Northern Powerhouse, but you will have to get rid of Dave and his ‘green crap’ first.
    Shipbuilding when to Korea, but are today’s Cruise Liners being built – Germany, who owns the Engineering firm at which I served my apprenticeship – Siemens.
    The City has sold off our skills and the asset strippers have picked over the bones.

  14. forthurst
    September 5, 2015

    “The steel industry also faced new cheaper competitors.”

    The steel industry was destroyed by nationalisation and Bolshevik infiltration of the Unions.

    Although the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ grand strategy is not attempting to recreate the golden age of King Cotton, it does appear to want to waste a lot of public money on attempting to recreate the golden age of the railways. One the most important resources of the North was its network of grammar schools which fed the Northern universities and technical colleges; the North had far fewer private schools to fall back on after their grammar schools were comprehensivised by a public school twerp, so where is the grand strategy for turning Northerners once again into an educated workforce? Offering free a free academic education to those with the intellectual capacity to profit from it, is arguably one of the best ways to attract home those Northerners that have been living in the South since the demise of their indigenous industries and who might wish to assist the regeneration of the North with private initiatives rather than public money.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      The UK Steel industry was killed by the stupid way international anti pollution agreements were setup. It was also killed by the leading processes invented by the UK shopfloor workers being given to their competitors abroad leaving them unable to compete with innovation.

  15. margaret
    September 5, 2015

    Manchester is creating more work and links with private companies via their research, and innovation schemes in health and biotechnology. Manchester University is central to this. Management in Manchester are all to ready to put employees with flair down though and waste money with jealous anti progressive attitudes.

    We have passed the stage when modern synthetic fabrics were popular .I cannot see why we cannot re invest in cotton and modern machinery to make good material again.

  16. margaret
    September 5, 2015

    P.S I hear that small efficient windmills which work with a wind at 5 mph are producing workable and cost effective electricity. They are also bird safe.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      September 5, 2015

      Yes, and also attract a nice subsidy paid for by the poor as well as the rich.

    2. ian wragg
      September 6, 2015

      Until they invent one that generates without wind we are goosed.

  17. oldtimer
    September 5, 2015

    The history, which you recount, of these northern cities is a reminder of the need for industries to reinvent themselves or to die. Many have died or shrivelled. Some businesses have reinvented themselves, such as in the textile and steel industries, by becoming more specialist and/or by embracing the potential of new technologies.

    On the other hand, the decision of Lancs CC to deny Cuadrilla permission to continue its exploration for shale gas is hardly a good example of a local authority seeking to encourage a potentially significant new industry in the north. Perhaps others (in Yorkshire?) will be bolder and show them what they will have missed.

    Lifelogic, above, has already pointed out the tax burden on incomes, savings, enterprise and the rest; it got even worse in the last budget – the forthcoming taxes on cars needs to be added to his long list. Osborne looks more and more like the heir to Brown.

    September 5, 2015

    One can only hope the Greens form a thumping majority government. Why? Because they would utterly fail to bring the Powerhouses and transport infrastructures to the North which Mr Osborne cruelly threatens.

    Blackpool gets media attention. Throughout the years “millions upon millions of pounds” went into that city. A kind of ultra mini-Las Vegas. If you visit Blackpool take a person with you knowledgeable in building construction and maintenance and then you may feel a massive police enquiry is necessary to determine where on the earth those millions upon millions of pounds were spent. The frontages of most buildings hide moldy dilapidation and worse behind. They have been like that for all the “prosperous” years.

    Sheffield. A joke of tram, road, bus, rail transport with the most expert sat-navers of truck drivers, sales reps and ordinary commuters going round and round the city centre wondering how on earth to legally exit to get to even local destinations.
    Nottingham, the same only a little less so and minus the trams.
    Bradford, famed by truck drivers and commercial drivers throughout the length and breadth of the country because of its unmarked cul-de-sacs, insane traffic controls, the drivers circle and circle taking up road space trying to find their way through with the best of sat-navs.
    One could say much nastier things about these cities and many others not mentioned for lack of space. Bradford of course has been utterly ruined. The initial massive immigration was engaged upon by a British government who knew full well the textile industry in this country was doomed.Yet these hopeful and textile-skilled immigrants for the most part came into the city for the very purpose. Unemployment and again the structure of the very buildings give the game away to a once great city.

    It was Mrs Thatcher’s government who was instrumental in encouraging at the highest level and negotiating the export of Sheffield’s, Scunthorpe’s, and the North-East’s steel industry to Brazil and negotiated the “joint exploitation UK/Brazil of third markets ”

    It was the Tories and Hull’s Lord Prescott’s Labour Party who with the CommonMarket/EU fisheries policy wiped out the fishing industry in Hull, Grimsby and elsewhere with the knock-on effect of warehouse/storage and processing jobs reliant on fish and its products being wiped out in Leeds, Nottingham and countless other places.

    What is on offer with the “Northern Powerhouses ” is more of the same nonsense, a ruination of what’s left of northern cities, unwarranted building of even more bird’s nest roads and rails all conflicting and in contradiction with one another. A time to invest in sat-navs with continual minute by minute updates. A time to invest in traffic cone production and distribution. Perhaps a time to invest in truckstops where tired truckers and commercial travellers fed up of going round in ever decreasing circles can take a welcome break.
    More power to local politicians? What a disgusting and vile threat for Mr Osborne to make on a blameless and completely innocent goodly Northern people. Many, now, get more salary than your average MP. With the Powerhouses they will get more than Mr Cameron. They, as before, are responsible for massive dogs’ breakfasts of incompetence.

    Off topic. Is there any point in keeping surveillance of UK people going to Syria and monitoring their return? They can return by rubber dingy without ID and be transported free of charge, again without ID throughout the whole of Europe.
    Mr Cameron says the first duty of a Prime Minister and a UK government is the security of its people. FAILED.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      Nottingham does have trams. It also has had a rather nice sandy beach in the city centre this summer to sunbathe on, complete with water to bathe in, beach bars, etc (I did wonder whether this beach was funded by the public purse but never had the time to enquire).
      But I agree trams in Nottingham and Sheffield, and Edinburgh, and the Metro in Newcastle have been complete and utter wastes of public money and don’t deliver anything the buses wernt delivering beforehand more cheaply and flexibly.
      If there was any justice in the world the people responsible for these massive wastes of public wealth would be in prison for fraud.

  19. Denis Cooper
    September 5, 2015

    Briefly off-topic, please could we have it clarified whether “several thousand” migrants means that number of individuals in total or it means that number of families?

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      You misunderstand. Cameron is a PR salesman producing constantly changing glossy messages with next to no relationship to what the government is doing or going to do. Don’t worry about what he says worry about what they do. And all the evidence is that the core decision makers around Cameron like the immigration taps wide open, and would prefer even more, while being happy to say something different occasionally for public consumption. (Cameron generally just says what the BBC tell him the public want to hear, and often he will promise extreme opposites of the spectrum to different audiences according to what they want to here, like his promises on immigration when he is in India being completely different to what he says to a domestic audience). Of course they will use “green belt” planning laws, schools admission religious segregation, and other state manipulations to make sure they don’t actually move into their neighbourhoods.

  20. A different Simon
    September 5, 2015

    Centrica farmed in to Cuadrilla/AJ Lucas’s vaunted Lancashire PEDL165 license in June 2013 .

    Earlier this week announced their decision to reduce their interest in the joint venture due to constant obstruction by Lancashire County Council and lack of Govt and opposition support .

    The minister advertised a block in West London as part of the much delayed 14th Onshore Licensing Round . London Local Energy spent proper money producing a professional application for this but the minister changed their mind and decided not to award the block and did not give any reasons or offer reimbursement for costs incurred .

    The planning appeal against Lancashire County Councils rejection (against advice of their own planners) on Cuadrilla’s applications for both deep wells and water monitoring wells is scheduled to be heard in Feb 2016 .

    Apparently traffic volumes are the issue yet 2 weeks later Lancashire County Council approved doubling of capacity at a stone quarry .

    Govt and council prevarication has driven the small operators to the point of bankruptcy and ruined the investments of their investors (typically mom and pop investors) .

    Did it come as a surprise to the minister that the hoped for North American shale operators have decided to give the UK a wide berth and take their investment elsewhere ?

  21. Atlas
    September 5, 2015


    May I suggest you get the causality direction correct. First came the private industries in the north, only then came the private communication infrastructure. In other words having a good rail link is pointless unless there is a prior demand for it.

  22. Alan Wheatley
    September 5, 2015

    Agreed the essential point being made. Two comments on practicalities.

    (1) There has been a long running conflict as to what is the point of local government. If it is to manage local issues, then it needs the ability to make decisions itself, raise locally the money it needs to implement its decisions, and be accountability locally. If these conditions exist there is no need for the central government to stick its oar in and tell local government how to run their local affairs. Alternatively, local government is the local agents for the implementation of central government policy with its attendant rules, penalties and bribes, as exemplified by the “Northern Powerhouse”.

    (2) Clearly, things that can only be decided at the national level have a local impact. HS2 is a good example. HS2 would make more sense if it provided a direct link the the Channel Tunnel from local major centres, such as Manchester. Instead we see the thinking behind it is to primarily benefit London.

  23. yosarion
    September 5, 2015

    Export Is between two Countries John, you of all people breaking England up, Going back to your comments a few weeks ago about having Dorset news in Wokinghan, I would be careful what you wish for there, that news program would appear to be the only one the BBC has that crosses EUSSR regions. Only last year they moved the news page to Regions moving the Channel islands and IOM etc to a separate page. The met office have gone Ballistic on Regions recently on the weather you will be lucky to here the name of an English County and if they dare mention its name they now call the County an area. It would seem the Salami Slicing continues apace with your so called Conservatives.

  24. Bill
    September 5, 2015

    Surely we are talking about the combination of technical innovation, entrepreneurial capitalists and an efficient workforce? We may make also the distinction between blue skies science on the one hand and technology on the other. Newton needs his telescope, Einstein needs his microscope (to observe Brownian motion) and software geniuses need their printed circuits.

    I don’t think we have lost our way – ask James Dyson who has managed to combine creativity at the technical level with practical manufacturing. But we certainly need to harvest the talent in our universities and a far closer connection between venture capitalists and the bright young physicists, electronic engineers and chemists. Most of the Dragons’ Den projects we see are low tech applications of ingenious ideas. We need something further up the scientific ladder if we are to get back to where we were in the heyday of our Victorian forebears.

    1. brian
      September 5, 2015

      It’s interesting that Dyson is a privately held company with an owner/manager who is still motivated to make things happen. He takes a long term view of things and is not dependent on the whims of the City. I wonder what will happen when Dyson himself is no longer around. Will it be sold off to some foreign outfit?

  25. Colin
    September 5, 2015

    “The transatlantic liners were largely replaced by airplanes from Heathrow”

    “Airplanes”, John? It’ll be elevators and sidewalks next. Tsk, tsk.

  26. Grumpy Goat
    September 5, 2015

    In a more complex society government must pay its role too. Private enterprise is very important but the world has changed from the industrial revolution. Even then permission from the government was required to build railways through acts of parliament and one had the landed gentry objecting the railways passing on their land. Government should provide the seed corn for private enter prise to take root by enforcing planning permissions are granted and spending more on infrastructure. It is scandalous that London takes so much infrastructure spend of £5426 per head whilst the north east has do with £223 per head see http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/aug/07/london-gets-24-times-as-much-infrastructure-north-east-england
    Although the statement “These cities need more higher -priced housing for sale” I must admit I do not understand, good housing being affordable up north is one of its charms. The last thing you want is housing at the same price as London

  27. Peter Stroud
    September 5, 2015

    Subsidies for solar and wind farms are, hopefully, on their way out. The globe is not warming, as was forecast by the warmists complex, unverified models. The climate is changing, as it always has, and always will, without much influence from mankind. The majority of this country’s population know this, as by now must our government ministers. The one thing that all industry needs, in the northern power house, and elsewhere, is economically priced energy. So, Mr Redwood, please suggest to our leaders that it is time to repeal the ridiculous climate change act. And treat carbon dioxide for what it really is: a life giving gas that we cannot do without – and certainly not a pollutant.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      September 5, 2015

      Well said Peter. We have been ripped off for long enough.

  28. A different Simon
    September 5, 2015

    I know of an assembly plant in the North which sources some of it’s major components from central europe and they have to be trucked 1,000 miles .

    They talked to the rail authorities and local authorities about laying a track on existing free land much of which had track on it at one time .

    They were told this would be a 30 year exercise (I thought they said 20 but have recently been corrected and it was 30) and have got the message and given up .

    The products of this factory played a major part in winning WW2 .

    There are a whole raft of people who want the Northern Powerhouse to fail and to bring the UK to it’s knees so it has to join the EU . They have infiltrated every part of the bureaucracy and network with each other .

    Isn’t it time the death penalty was reinstated for treason and actually used to send out a clear message to the fifth columnists ?

  29. petermartin2001
    September 5, 2015

    It’s worth just taking a look at UK finances in Victorian times. When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, the UK National debt was 165% of GDP. Some years earlier it had been as high as 260% of GDP as a result of the Napoleonic War. The drive to achieve “balanced books” then, as now, had the greatest impact on those who hadn’t caused the imbalance in first place. Social and economic conditions had deteriorated rapidly after the end of the war. A Chartist uprising followed. The meeting to demand fairer democracy in St Peters Sq in Manchester ended when the army charged, and swords slashing . History has termed that to be the Peterloo massacre.

    It also has to be understood that Britain was on a gold standard then. So it was quite possible for countries to have no National debt at all if they had enough gold in their coffers. The USA had no National Debt at about the same time. It was possible then. It isn’t possible now for the Govt to have no net liabilities now that money is just an IOU of govt.

    The problem in the UK, for at least the last hundred years, has been that the South East of England is substantially more prosperous than the rest of the UK. So when Govts of various political persuasions have tried to stimulate the economy of the country, as whole, there has been a problem of severe inflationary pressures in the SE, which have led to policy reversals, just when the regions were starting to feel some benefit.

    In recent times the favoured method to stimulate the economy has been monetary based. Interest rates have been reduced to entice the private sector to borrow more. That’s just led to asset price inflation which has led to house owning Southerners to become even richer than their Northern counterparts.

    A more sensible approach is to target Govt spending into the regions where it won’t cause any inflation. Inflation is really the only down side of Govt spending. Trying to encourage a revival in the North by relying on increased private sector investment is just wishful thinking. It won’t happen. The idea, in business, is to invest money to make even more money. No one in their right mind will invest in a poor region where there isn’t any money to be made.

    For example, I might want to invest in a restaurant in Sonning-on-Thames on because I know there’s people there who have the money and don’t mind paying for good food in an upmarket restaurant. Would I want to do the same in Stockport-on-Mersey?

    Maybe, but I’d need to know I had paying customers who could afford what I was selling. That’s where government comes in. Private investors won’t create those paying customers.

    Reply Rising house prices does not make southerners better off unless they own more than one or move out of the high priced area to a cheaper one. You need to carry on living in your home whatever its value. Successive governments have put large extra amounts of public spending into the poorer regions, but it has not succeeded in getting them up to LSE employment of income levels.

  30. Anonymous
    September 6, 2015

    Here we go again.

    John Redwood in denial about the crisis facing our country. Without inclusion of mass immigration in his reasoning this post is nothing but utter bunk.

    At least someone is addressing the real issue of the day:


    1. Anonymous
      September 6, 2015

      UKIP came a poor fourth in your constituency because the electorate were duped into thinking they had a real Tory standing for them.

      Reply My electors were certainly not duped and do not deserve insults from you.

      1. Anonymous
        September 6, 2015

        Reply to reply: I’m afraid those who abandoned their intention to vote UKIP do deserve to be insulted.

        Your recent comment that UKIP came an unimpressive fourth in Woking gives no acknowledgement to those who went against their true desires to keep Labour out.

        I see this quite a lot on Conservative blogs. Complete amnesia as to how uncertain the election was and near total disregard for those who lent their votes to the Tories – they go uncounted.

        The sad fact is that Emma Thompson and Bob Geldoff have far more respect from your party than those who voted for you.

        I somehow doubt that the the outcome would have been any worse had Labour won. Immigration could not be higher and the BBC couldn’t be more in control of this policy and the narrative than it is.

        1. petermartin2001
          September 8, 2015


          If you want to lose the coming EU referendum keep banging on about the immigration question. You won’t win the support of those who consider the big question is UK democracy rather than immigration per se.

          My opinion is that immigration to the UK is only a problem because the Eurozone is an economic basket case. If rates of unemployment were much lower then the flow of people would naturally equalise and there’d be far fewer problems. Most British people are tolerant have no animosity towards those who come to the UK for a variety of reasons.

          To make the issue into one solely about immigration is therefore going to be largely counterproductive.

  31. lojolondon
    September 6, 2015

    Forget about 18th century technology, bin HS2 and spend just £1 Billion on superfast broadband everywhere. This will stop people commuting from the North into London to work, they need to work where they live, then the city will become rich again. The only thing that the mythical ’15 minutes faster, but less convenient’ HS2 white elephant train service will achieve is to make more Northeners work in London, why would someone from London want to commute to work in the North, it is an absurd thought.

  32. Iain Gill
    September 6, 2015

    Silicon roundabout is a complete failure. I have watched the people leading it (on the public sector payroll) on London TV a few times. They evev went through their cv’s and had clearly limited real knowledge of the it business. The proper it business is subsidising these clowns through their taxes. If accounted for properly I am sure this would be seen as a massive failure. Thames valley park is the opposite end of the spectrum, largely through Larry Ellison’s skills. Of course the government has been destroying the UK his for years by printing uncapped work visas for (overseas ed) nationals to (come ed) in and take the jobs.

  33. Anonymous
    September 6, 2015

    As Manchester has experienced among the highest levels of immigration in the UK (according to the International Immigration Map) I thought you would have mentioned it in your post on … Manchester.

    The effect of ‘powerhouse’ Manchester is likely to be neutralised.


    Everyone of the Left is talking about immigration every day – why is everyone on the right so mute ?

    Peter Hitchens has it right on the subject today. Until we have a referendum acceptimg further mass immigration everyone who wants it should put refugees up in all of their own houses and every one of their spare rooms and pay all of their costs – otherwise actresses. pop stars and politicians should not be telling ordinary people that they must sacrifice their well being and standard of living.

    1. Iain Gill
      September 6, 2015

      And they should displace their children from better schools.

  34. Jon
    September 6, 2015

    The South East developed handsomely through inter connectivity. The expansion of it’s workforce and their spending power has moved into the Midlands but that’s commuter driven. The North could do with greater inter connectivity rather than perhaps an HS2 especially when Javelin trains could run on existing lines.
    We hear in 10 to 15 years time there will be a robot revolution and looking at what they can do now I believe that will be the case. I think that may render the idea of HS2 a white elephant by the time it’s first route is opened. It’s looking like automatic robot road transport could overtake in terms of efficiency for those trips between cities and regions.
    It takes some inspirational council leaders and politicians to bring in investment. I get the impression those in the North East are more ready to join a strike or protest march than attend a trade fair anywhere in that part of Europe, could be me being unfair. Spending money on inter connectivity in the North rather than the HS2 could be better.

  35. Mike Wilson
    September 7, 2015

    These cities need more higher -priced housing for sale as well as affordable housing to rent, to attract the investors and entrepreneurs.

    What? The few areas of the country where housing is relatively affordable need more ‘higher priced housing’? Why? There are plenty of very nice houses in the North – there are everywhere – for entrepreneurs. Why would investors need ‘higher prices housing’. It is high time houses were regarded as a place to live – not an investment. Half of what is wrong with this country is the obsession with house prices and houses as an investment.

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