If we want the Northern Powerhouse to succeed, and once again spread the wealth, prosperity, and social mobility that the UK has to offer, then we need to make sure we are not just being paid lip service. Being born and bred in Greater Manchester, having a satellite office there, and also having our HQ based in the South West of the country I can speak candidly about the historic North South divide and its implications country wide.
I definitely notice the difference between the two halves of the country, up North they are a much more friendly bunch, better at building a rapport, more industrious with plenty of self taught DIY and engineering skills that get passed down through the generations, where as in the South they are more focused, cut to the point, and more academically led.
History tells us that infrastructure is the absolute driver if the North of England is once again to be a success, no longer can we afford to let it slip, after all once upon a time it was an industrial giant, heart of the industrial revolution, the centre of our Great Britain not only geographically but productively. Ford Motor Company Great Britain, once had its proud roots and plant works in Trafford Park, Manchester, but as the industry grew and the Manchester Ship Canal coped less and less with the volume of steel barges required, boat sizes needed to bulk feed those factories, and the small gauge inner railroad systems becoming to small, the lack of infrastructure gave way to relocations further South, with its deep water ports that could handle bigger boats and bigger volume, its quicker rail routes, and cheaper dock lands, well at least till the turn of the millennium anyway, and since then it has been propped up and subsidised without question or over consideration. In the 1920's Ford purchased their Dagenham site for circa £167,000 now an engine block factory employing around 2000 people.
If the plan is to link North with South via HS2, and West with East via the Northern Powerhouse Rail, thus connecting London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, and the smaller but equally important towns and cities like Bradford, Preston, and Halifax, then we must stick to that plan. No lip service, no pre election waffle and jabber, and we will surely need more devolved administrations able to fight harder for their funding and pound of flesh from the central government.
Half the total UK investment in transport and infrastructure is and has been focused on London and the South East for decades, with false promises and none starts coming out of Whitehall regardless of which party has been dominant. No surprise that the same central government funding battles were evident in the late 1910's, pre a dearth of manufacturing and factory based relocations toward the South. Had the infrastructure kept pace up North, had the ship canal been widened, deepened, lengthened, had the small gauge given way to the Metro Link decades earlier, then the UK could have looked an alternate place. That's not to say we merely want to swap it the other way around, we need to build an island that connects all parts of the country with equal GDP input, measure, and importance.
It is the only way that post Brexit we can deliver growth in our small businesses, nation of shopkeepers, and provide social mobility and mutual respect for each other whatever the region you live in.