While the people of Scotland have voted on whether to become an independent nation, here in the North East of England there has been a coming together of some of the region’s biggest daily newspapers behind a united call.
In an unprecedented move by the regional press, The Journal and other key titles - The Chronicle, the Northern Echo, the Manchester Evening News, The Yorkshire Post, The Gazette - have joined forces to send a powerful message to the main party leaders, that a debate is needed to ensure this vitally important part of England does not suffer unfairly. In their desperate scramble to save the UK, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg delivered a vow to the people of Scotland. Part of it said: “We agree that the UK exists to ensure opportunity and security for all by sharing our resources equitably across all four nations to secure the defence, prosperity and welfare of every citizen.”
There now needs to be a promise that the citizens of the North East will be treated fairly in the aftermath of Scotland’s day of destiny. The detail can follow but there needs to be at least a vow to engage with our great region about how it will be equipped to compete on more equal terms, not just with the south of England, but a more powerful Scotland.
This is not a call for a revival of the elected regional assembly proposal so clearly rejected a decade ago. We do not seek another tier of Government. What we do seek is a stronger voice in Westminster and greater control over our own affairs.
The party leaders know they were complacent over Scotland. Now the votes have been counted north of the border, they must not be complacent over the north of England.