The Journal Opinion: The leadership we need in a new era for the North East

The Journal's opinion column for Friday, October 31, in which we welcome Labour's plans for devolution

Peter Byrne/PA Wire Labour Leader Ed Miliband on stage at Manchester Central, during the Labour Party Annual Conference
Labour Leader Ed Miliband on stage at Manchester Central, during the Labour Party Annual Conference

The Conservatives have been doing quite a bit of the running in the North of late. It’s about time that Labour gave them a bit of competition.

Today, Ed Miliband will outline what a future Labour government would do for the regions.

At first glance, it looks good. It might not appear as sexy as George Osborne’s talk of a northern powerhouse, but there does appear to be more meat to it.

Devolution for the English regions has become a hot topic in the wake of the Scottish referendum. The main parties are having to respond. The Conservatives got their retaliation in first, and now Labour are responding.

Mr Miliband’s chosen method of delivery for the future devolution is combined authorities such as the one that has recently been formed in the North East.

Our view has always been that building up the combined authority is the most realistic way that the North East can accrue extra decsion-making powers.

But what is becoming clearer than ever is what a glorious opportunity was missed by the Labour government and the North East electorate when we voted against a regional assembly 10 years ago.

As Lord Prescott freely admits, what was offered to us then was simply not good enough. He certainly wasn’t to blame for that.

Nevertheless, had we voted for an assembly then it would have been the perfect vehicle for extra powers now.

But that ship has sailed. We cannot again ask the North East to vote for an elected body.

Whoever wins the general election next year, things are going to change. It will fall to the combined authority to show leadership and responsibility as we enter the new era.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer