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What has the ‘northern powerhouse’ actually done for the people of the north?

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A hundred yards from Newcastle station, restored but not particularly well signposted, stands the shed where George Stephenson built the world’s first commercial train engine, Locomotion No 1, in 1825. From the trains that revolutionised transport to the steel that mechanised production to the coal that fed the fires, the north literally powered the first industrial revolution and the wealth it generated. Two centuries on, and the “northern powerhouse” has just turned five. Not the north as a powerhouse but George Osborne’s 2014 “ambition” for the north.

In its birthday assessment, IPPR North concludes that the northern powerhouse has been held back by austerity. As a northern MP and shadow minister for industrial strategy, my assessment would be more critical – austerity was the pre-eminent political ideology of the Cameron-Osborne-Clegg government, regional renaissance was not, and the northern powerhouse proves that.

I am a member of the all-party parliamentary group for the northern powerhouse, I have attended its events and will continue to contribute constructively in any way I can. I value its ambition, its voice, its research. But without real investment, powers and accountability, it can never be more than a marketing ploy with a little money attached.

That change is needed is not in doubt. The forced deindustrialisation of the north and the financialisation of the economy under Margaret Thatcher shifted........

© The Guardian