Holy Island, 2015

A Northern Wake-Up Call: IPPR North Report Confirms Westminster Failings

How COVID-19 has intensified inequalities in Northern England

This week, IPPR North’s report The State of the North has confirmed what many Northerners have known since the height of Thatcher’s term in office. With Brexit and COVID-19, the North-South divide has grown dramatically – to a point that the gap between South East England and North West England could be akin to that of West Germany and East Germany prior to reunification.

Before last week, one of the few things that set Northern England apart from the South East of England was consigned to history forever. If you wanted to know where the North of England really began, it was at the most southerly terminus of a rail service that was served by Class 142 Pacer units. With franchised buses as part of a fully integrated transport system, Greater London feels like another planet compared with Greater Manchester.

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The Case for Stalybridge: Andy Burnham’s Vision for Six Forgotten Towns

Stalybridge as one of six ‘forgotten towns’ in Mayor of Greater Manchester’s revitalisation plan

The polycentric nature of Greater Manchester and each of its boroughs can be a blessing and curse. It is a blessing in the sense where each of the ten boroughs have a character of their own. For example, with my borough [Tameside], the virtually unbroken urban sprawl of Manchester ends in the western part of Stalybridge, Dukinfield, and Hyde. East of the said places, suburbia meets the Pennine foothills alongside charming small towns and villages (Mossley, Broadbottom, Mottram, and Hollingworth in our case). Continue reading “The Case for Stalybridge: Andy Burnham’s Vision for Six Forgotten Towns”

Are We Not Men? No, We Could Be DevoManc Pretty Soon

More powers for Greater Manchester and elected mayor announced

Could an historic agreement between the ten Metropolitan Borough Councils and HM Government bring devolution back to Greater Manchester? Announced by George Osborne today, “Devo Manc” is set to give our conurbation a directly elected mayor and control over its buses. There will also be powers to oversee planning, housing and policing.

Also trumpeted in his announcement will be control over business growth and health and social care budgets. Further powers will also be devolved to the GMCA. They hope for full devolution of all of its allocated public spending. Continue reading “Are We Not Men? No, We Could Be DevoManc Pretty Soon”

DevoManc: Could the Republic of Greater Mancunia Become Reality?

Q: Are We Not Men? A: No, We Are Manc

The United Kingdom: a population of around 62 million. One that is still united in its post-1707 form thanks to Better Together winning the argument (55% against Scottish Independence on Friday 19 September 2014). In the light of Scotland’s big day, which recorded a record turnout, there was calls for devolution in England. Not only an English Parliament (as suggested by Wokingham and Wellingborough Conservative MPs John Redwood and Peter Bone respectively) but also city-wide devolution.

In short, the possibility of a Republic of Mancunia. More realistically, a realisation that the 1986 abolition of the Metropolitan County Councils was a retrograde step?
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The Westhoughtonian Question: Devolution for Northern England Anyone?

Could the Autumn 2014 Scottish independence referendum pave way for a future Northern English Parliament?

In September 1997, I was on my way towards seeing my late Grandma in Oldham. Prior to meeting her at The Spindles Shopping Centre, I wearily boarded the 409 with a copy of the Daily Record in my hand. I was tired after listening to the Scottish Devolution referendum results on BBC Radio 5 and happy for Scotland. To me, its citizens were kindred spirits: they were shafted by Thatcher following the early introduction of the Poll Tax and squandering of the North Sea Oil revenues on unemployment and taming the trade unions. In earlier times, the Highland Clearances saw the current cabinet’s ancestral predecessors. Continue reading “The Westhoughtonian Question: Devolution for Northern England Anyone?”