I’m not a big fan of politics (with a big or small ‘p’), or of politicians, but when I was asked this week to attend an event to discuss the economic future of the region – that IS something I am interested in.
So I went to what was the old St Johns College (now part of The Old Granada Studios) – which was a blast from the past as my Dad used to lecture there and his office looked out onto the Corrie set.
The guest speakers were David Cameron and George Osbourne. Much to my surprise and despite myself, I was largely impressed. They delivered a clear vision for the Northern Powerhouse – the devolution of power to the North.
They talked about the investment committed to The Graphene Institute – for which they deserve a big pat on the back. The 2 Manchester Uni scientists who discovered Graphene – read about it here http://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk and are now Nobel prize winners and freemen of the City of Manchester; have been approached by institutes the world over looking to recruit them. However, due to the support they have had they are staying in the North West, the Institute will be opening this year and we are getting inward investment from round the world – which will benefit Manchester for many years to come.
Cameron and Osbourne also talked about creating 100,000 more jobs in the North West, 25,000 more houses and other investments which will be worth at least 2k per person to the average Mancunian.
They highlighted their investment into the port of Liverpool – to enable it to take super tankers, the commitment to HS2 (which will be the first new railway outside London for over 100 years) and the initiatives they are proposing like new transport links UNDER the Pennines (like they have on the continent).
They pointed out that the recovery in the North West is outstripping the rest of the UK and that small businesses were key in this growth – hence their support of lower red tape, less NI and tax burdens and commitment to even more apprenticeships.
All that was good to hear, especially the devolution of powers to a ‘proper’ mayor – one that is across the whole of Greater Manchester, with real powers like the London Mayor, and unlike the current Salford Mayor for example.
Probably the best thing David Cameron said all day was in answer to a journalist from the Guardian, who was clearly trying to get him to say something ‘news worthy” on the subject of Nigel Farage’s comments about the Paris atrocity. He showed he is a true statesman when he replied that he thought it was a day for reflection, for solidarity and support for France and not a day for political point scoring