By Jacqui Miller-Charlton MBE
It appears that only months on from that famous photo shoot where the 7 regional authorities posed with chancellor George Osbourne and signed ‘in principal’ to vote for an elected mayor and in so doing devolve financial power to our region that our future within the Northern Powerhouse may be in jeopardy.This historic movement would see the the North East in a position to control its own destiny for the first time ever however because some of our regions politicians have decided to put politics before the very people they say they stand for then we may be left out in the cold whilst our neighbours in the Tees Valley forge ahead with their ambitious plans for future regional regeneration.
It’s imperative that as a region we do what’s best for the long term future of our region and that means working together to ensure we find a solution to move forward and grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity. To say ‘it just doesn’t work for us’ isn’t good enough. It’s not about one authority or another and it’s most certainly not about party politics although unfortunately it very much seems that some of our MP’s are making sure it’s just that.
Devolved power is about our regions future it’s about a UNITED approach, it’s about putting the great people of the North East and their future first and it’s about looking to the future and NOT living in the past.
When are some of our politicians going to stop living in the past? Even today I continue to hear the story of the pit closures. It’s now over 3 decades since the miners strikes so how long are they going to regurgitate the same old story? A story that is so bias in favour of the then militant union leader figure of Arthur Scargill. I was a young adult at the time and I remember thinking how very dictatorial Mr Scargill appeared as he ranted away on his soapbox. His message he tried to suggest was one of solidarity in trying to force the government of the time to continue to plow many many millions into an industry that was costing the country countless millions more, the economics just did not add up. The same Mr Scargill that while the miners and their families survived through food donations from family, neighbours and regional food banks frequently dined in the lap of luxury up and down the country, his 3 course dinners often accompanied by an expensive bottle of red wine. He didn’t suffer, no it was only the working men and women he was supposed to represent that suffered under his continued orders to strike. Indeed fast forward to December 2012 and Mr Scargill took the NUM ( national union of miner workers) to court claiming he was still entitled to live in the London flat he had instructed NUM to pay the £34k a year rent for on his behalf decades earlier without the knowledge of NUM members and most of their senior officials. He lost the case but an insight perhaps into the type of man he is. A socialist he claimed of himself who in 1993 had attempted to use Margaret thatchers ‘right to buy’ policy a woman he confessed to ‘hate’ but was prepared to use her policy non the less to purchase the same flat he later took the NUM to court over for his own personal gain…..
Given these facts its rather ironic is it not that in parts of the North East even today the ‘ Scargill effect’ still hugely influences many decisions even those of generations that were not born at the time, maybe after reading this they may think twice?
What is clear is that we cannot allow the politics and politicians of a bygone era to effect our future. We have no right playing games with the jobs of our future generations. Someone once said to me ‘I don’t look back as I’m not going that way’ and I think this sums up perfectly the type of attitude we need to see in our regions politicians for the sake of the present and future prosperity.
Times change, what was in vogue yesterday no longer appeals and unless we are prepared to be brave and support the opportunity we have through controlling our own finances then we have only ourselves to blame when we are the country’s forgotten area. By ourselves of course I mean our regional authorities and the MPs elected by the people to serve the people and not their own interests. Personal ambitions are one thing and ambition is healthy in the right context but should never be placed above the importance of serving their constituents. I certainly hope that when it comes to it this is not the case and that we see ‘common sense’ prevail to benefit the masses and not the few. I’m a born and bred local girl and enormously proud of it too. I’m interested only in ensuring that as a region we get what we so richly deserve, the opportunity to control our destiny. We’ve never been afraid of hard work indeed some of our factories are the most productive at what they do in the world.