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The north needs more than to be ‘a new London’

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It was in 2014 that the then chancellor, George Osborne, used the phrase “northern powerhouse” at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. His speech was set against a backdrop of steam-powered engines that had driven the Industrial Revolution in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But five years on, what exactly has been done to drive the north of England’s economy forward?

Certainly, as a slogan, the northern powerhouse has helped to put the north on the political map. And it has also provided a focus for the area to make the case for greater investment and devolution of powers. The phrase is powerful too because it invokes a visceral response, one of identity, innovation and dynamism, which speaks to northerners’ desire for a greater level of self-determination. We’ve seen this most recently in the #PowerUpTheNorth campaign, in which 33 newspapers across the region worked together to demand devolution of powers and resources to the north.

But beyond the rhetoric, the northern powerhouse has helped to usher in a new era of devolution, with directly elected mayors in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Sheffield City Region and, most recently, in the North of Tyne.........

© The Guardian