Friday, 30 December 2011

Deus Nobis Haec Otia Fecit

Such as it is.

The North East and Merseyside are both treated as cut off by the Political and Media Classes. Just contrast the number of regular or occasional television programmes set in the Greater Manchester-West Yorkshire-South Yorkshire belt, which is what London-based commissioning editors almost always seem to mean by "the North". The more picturesque parts of Yorkshire also get quite a look-in, even if Heartbeat, or Last of the Summer Wine, or even Emmerdale was or is not exactly on the over-realistic side.

Look at the honours heaped on Manchester United when it wins a European title, but not on Liverpool Football Club when it does the same thing. A few years ago, who could have told, from national media coverage, that the shooting of an 11-year-old boy in Liverpool took place, not only in quite a smart part of town, but in fact in a city with a better record on gun-related deaths than Birmingham, Manchester or (wait for it) London? And so one could go on.

Going all the way back to the 1970s, the Callaghan Government’s proposals for Scottish and Welsh devolution were rightly and vigorously opposed by Labour MPs from the North East and from Merseyside, whom, and whose constituents, nobody had bothered to ask in advance. This negligence was to be repeated by the Blair-Brown Government, not only over devolution, but also over a whole host of other issues. It continues under Cameron. (Surprisingly little has been made today of the fact that Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine are both Welsh. It matters.)

A vital part of the solution to this is to have strong MPs from Merseyside, from the North East, and from other neglected, patronised areas, drawn from a party which is most strongly committed to the economic, social, cultural and political representation and betterment of those areas. Where is that party?


  1. You are still not entirely convinced by Ed Miliband's Blue Labour, then?

  2. Not entirely by either, and they are not the same thing.

  3. The North East is certainly misunderstood. Just the other day, I listened as I was told again how hard it must have been for Cheryl Cole to have grown up in rough, poor Newcastle. You know, the city of department stores, with the largest city centre shopping centre in the UK and the most profitable M&S footcourt anywhere (how middle class is that?), where 50,000 people can afford to watch one of the most overpriced sports teams in the world EVERY FORTNIGHT and the same proportion of children attend private schools as in large parts of the Home Counties. Then again, she is from North Shields.

  4. All right, so Geordie Shore and Geordie Finishing School were not exactly aimed at me. In any case, people from County Durham are not Geordies, as Geordies would be the first to tell you. But the latter, since it was made at public expense, was still the most pig ignorant BBC depiction of the North East since it sent some Jolly Hockey Sticks reporter to walk around upmarket Tynemouth, which always had a Tory MP until 1997, and marvel that the Conservative Party had managed to win a few council seats anywhere so improbable. The question should have been how it ever managed to lose them. Even last year, it still did not managed to win back the seat in Parliament. Have you ever been to Tynemouth?

    Until this year, Newcastle had had a Lib Dem council for some years. That authority was under Tory control for much of the post-War period, and the city regularly returned Tory MPs for certain seats. There is still a strikingly high number of privately schooled children, a posh university with Princess Eugenie at it, a thriving arts scene that is certainly not reminiscent of the pitmen painters, several gentlemen’s clubs, a racecourse of some importance, and no shortage of the swankier sorts of shops, restaurants, bars, and the like. There are poor places around it (as well as several very rich ones), but there are very few poor areas in it, although the ones that there are, are undeniably very poor indeed.

    Any chance of a programme in which the products of somewhere like the Central High are sent to somewhere like the South Coast or numerous parts of London in order to learn how the other half live?

  5. Harold Wilson made great play of being a Yorkshireman, but he was a Merseyside MP.

    You are right that Welsh devolution could not have been attempted while there was a Merseyside MP in Number 10. It is shocking that Scottish devolution was enacted while there was a North East MP there.

    Didn't Heseltine start out as a National Liberal? I think that that is important, too.

  6. It certainly is, as is everything that you say. Thank you.