The Null Device
It has long been said that it's grim up north, and now a new report by a right-wing think tank claims that the north of England is doomed and should be abandoned. The report by Policy Exchange, a think tank closely connected to the Conservative Party, states that northern cities which sprung up during the industrial revolution, and declined with the collapse of manufacturing, are beyond hope of regeneration:
The authors concluded that coastal cities like Liverpool and Sunderland had "lost much of their raison d'etre" with the decline of shipping and had "little prospect of offering their residents the standard of living to which they aspire".
It was time to be "realistic about the ability of cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle to regenerate struggling nearby towns such as Liverpool, Bradford and Sunderland.The solution, the report suggests, would be to encourage those residing in the north to move to the south-east of England. In particular, in the Information Age, Oxford and Cambridge would expand into vast, thriving cities, much as Liverpool and Manchester did during the industrial revolution, and the outskirts of these cities should be where large numbers of new homes for emigrating Northerners should be built:
"We should consider expanding both dramatically, just as Liverpool and Manchester expanded in the 19th Century. Dynamic economies require dynamic economic geography."The Tories, aware of their historically poor showing in the North, have been quick to dismiss the report, swearing up and down that it does not represent Conservative policy, and that, should the voters see fit to elect them, they are comitted to regenerating the North.