Journal opinion: They will really have to work hard for your vote

The Journal's opinion column for Tuesday, March 31, in which we introduce and interpret the North East people's manifesto

Rui Vieira/PA Wire A ballot box at a polling station
A ballot box at a polling station

We don’t ask much. In fact, if there’s one thing that characterises your input into our people’s manifesto it is that it is reasonable and deliverable.

For instance, on spending cuts it is clear that you have noticed that cuts have impacted very hard on the region. Only a quarter of you thought they were fair.

Yet the picture is more nuanced. Slightly more than half of you think austerity is working – though a third of you now want it to slow down. And though more than half of you want council cuts to stop, 43% were OK for them to continue.

On devolution, you are very clear that you want more powers to be devolved to the North East. About half of you want those to be delivered through the combined authority of local council leaders. But a sizeable minority – nearly 38% – want a regional government. That’s far more than voted for John Prescott’s regional assembly in 2004.

Ukip may not win any seats in the North East at the election, but it is clear their agenda is alive and well in the region.

Our survey reveals that an in-out vote on Europe would be a close-run thing here and immigration is seen as a problem by almost all of you. Indeed, you rate immigration and the EU as the top election issue, just ahead of the NHS and the economy.

On transport, you want better roads. Specifically, you want a better A1.

These are not contradictory findings. They fit with an electorate that – though more likely to vote Labour – will not do so blindly or unthinkingly.

You are a thinking electorate, an open-minded electorate, an electorate that refuses to be taken for a ride. Whoever gets your vote will have earned it.

Journalists

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