Labour pledges to boost Northern Powerhouse status with launch of unorthodox ‘regional’ manifestos

Labour has announced that it will launch regional manifestos across the country to bring “wealth, power and prosperity” to communities.

These regional manifestos will outline the plans that Labour has for each individual region which will be funded by the £250bn Green Transformation Fund – something that Labour has gathered by promising that it will be spent on projects to improve sustainability.

One of the key pledges mentioned by Labour is the promise to invest more resources into the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ by focusing mainly on transport projects.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, said: “Britain is one of the most unequal countries in Europe, but under Labour that will change.

“Labour will govern for the whole of Britain, handing wealth and power back to every community and giving everyone a better life, rebuilding our public services and kick-starting a green industrial revolution that will bring prosperity to every region while tackling the climate and environmental emergency head on.”

While Labour has been saying for years that it supports devolution and straying away from London centric politics, this is the first time that such a pledge has been put into a manifesto.

What this means for Manchester is an improvement in the rail network which is decades behind London’s in terms of railway accessibility and the quality of trains travelling through the region.

A manifesto for the North

It was suggested by the Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, that the city should have an underground railway system similar to London’s which would help to reduce congestion.

According to the National Infrastructure Commission, after London, Manchester has the worst road congestion in England.

However, there has been no suggestion from the Mayor or his colleagues regarding how much this project would cost and if it is expected to be funded by Labour’s £250bn fund.

Mr McDonnell added: “We’re investing in our collective future and your family’s future to get the economy moving again in every part of Britain with new industries, well paid jobs and communities we can all be proud of.”

The Labour pledge has also failed to specify what specific parts of the Northern rail will be improved beyond an improvement in connections between the major Northern cities, cutting travel times.

Sceptics of the pledge have suggested that Labour are announcing these big pledges to distract voters from the fact that Corbyn has no strong stance on Brexit.

Tory minister Jake Berry said: “It’s a clear distraction from Corbyn’s failure to set out a Brexit plan.

“Every region in England outside of London voted to leave the European Union. If Corbyn’s Labour want to deliver for the people who live there, he should start with that.”

The Conservatives have announced a £3.6m Towns Fund, which promises to improve transport links and improve broadband connection across the country.

They have also promised to give more funding to local combined authorities to improve bus and train services, while investing £500m into reversing cuts to the railway network made in the 1960s which affected smaller towns and villages the most.

The Liberal Democrats have also made pledges on transport, promising to freeze peak time and season ticket train fares and to complete the HS2 rail project (a plan for a high speed railway in the UK).

The SNP want more powers devolved to Scotland including on transport, work and welfare.

And the Brexit Party has promised to provide free broadband in deprived regions and to scrap HS2.

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