Wednesday, 4 November 2009

OneNorthEast closure

I've just written to the Echo on the following subject, published here with the usual comments:

"I was struck by a mixture of concern and outrage to read in your newspaper this morning about the proposed effective scrapping of OneNorthEast if the Tories were to achieve power next year.

Concern, because it would be typical of the party’s centralising tendency and laissez-faire attitude to regional development, which would undoubtedly hurt the region’s chances of investment. Not that they have ever been very interested in the fate of a region they see as irreconcilably against them.

But it’s more than this - you might expect us to disagree on policy. I’m outraged, because it’s more than a political stunt. In making the announcement that they would not continue with the selection of a chairman under current terms, they are clearly trying to sabotage the recruitment process of a democratically legitimate body. Who’d apply for a job that might conceivably disappear within a few months?

The Tories are playing politics with real people and real jobs, both in OneNorthEast itself and the companies for which it helps secure investment. Beneath the veneer of Eric Pickles’ recent charm offensive towards the region, perhaps this demonstrates much more accurately the true contempt they have for the North East."

As you can see, what annoyed me most was their willingness to show contempt for a legitimate body, and try and hobble it in an opportunistic way which clearly goes against the principles of normal democratic politics. At best, we will end up merely with a period of unnecessarly stagnation, as the headless body cannot move either forward or back until after the election.

Comments please.


  1. I was surprised to learn that the Liberal Democrats would be backing the Tories in scrapping OneNorthEast.

    Speaking to some young social entrepreneurs at a recent event, I was struck by how much it meant for them to get backing from the OneNorthEast for their enterprise. Approval opens doors as it gives credibility to new ventures.

  2. James, I am as well, particularly in view of the Liberal Democrats federal party model and commitment to devolving power rather than centralising it. I understand that it can be frustrating not to have political power - but that's no reason to be destructive when you suddenly find you have a small amount of temporary leverage.

    I too am involved in a social entrepreneurship project (see profile, right), so I know how important the stamp of credibility is to people who are working their guts out to get something off the ground. I'm also very keen on measures to stimulate startups and small business, which are sectors I know well (see one of my posts from last month). A little money here can reap huge rewards in terms of economic growth and jobs if well-targeted.

    Finally, I also can't believe Tories and Liberals have chosen the worst possible moment to launch this attack on OneNorthEast, when startups in the region are struggling for orders and funding, thanks to the credit crunch.

  3. It is true that Vince Cable floated the idea at our Party Conference that the RDAs were suitable quangos to abolish.
    However, regional Lib Dem leaders, such as the Leader of Newcastle City Council, have since spoken out in support of One North East, as have I in an interview recently with the Evening Gazette.
    Until such time as you see such a commitment in our manifesto for the next election, which I'm not sure that you will, I would say it is not accurate to state that the Lib Dems are seeking the abolition of One North East.

  4. Further to my post above, here is a link to Alan Beith's website which emphasises our support for OneNorthEast, including a resolution passed by our Regional Conference last month.

  5. Mike, I had heard differently, but I take you at your word. If what you're saying is that the Lib Dems will not support the Tories in the effective scrapping of OneNorthEast, and that you're in agreement with us that the Tories should not try and interfere now with the selection process for the new Chairman, then I'm delighted. Great.

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