Farron: The Northern Powerhouse is a sham

Tim Farron has been in Yorkshire twice this week. He spoke at Yorkshire and the Humber (note, the name of the region is right this time) Liberal Democrat conference on Saturday and he was back for the Annual Dinner in Greg Mulholland’s seat on Wednesday.

While he was there, he spoke to the Yorkshire Post and was not impressed by the Conservative’s model of devolution:

One of the reasons the northern powerhouse is a sham and a failure is because this Government are now so obsessed with making sure that we reduce the size of the state that we are therefore not investing in the rail services that we need, in the housing that we need, the green energy we need, the broadband we need.

“Whilst the Labour Party is completely wrong-footed, completely in denial that the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books, George Osborne is mistaking the need to make sure you balance the books on your day to day expenditure with having to at the same time not invest in capital expenditure.

He added that there was a case for investment in infrastructure when interest rates wee low and was scathing about the Tory attitude to the north:

I would say when there is a zero per cent interest rate that is absolutely the time to fix the roof, building homes, building better rail links.I don’t think there’s anybody in the North who really believes the Tories meant what they said about the northern powerhouse.

“When we have a spending round coming up where they expect to make 30 per cent cuts in key departments I’m afraid the North can’t expect anything other than to be betrayed by the Conservatives.,” he said.

He also said the that Tories had a bit of a strange understanding of devolution:

What I worry about is central government is attaching far too may conditions and this seems, I’m afraid, more about trying to devolve responsibilty for making cuts to local communities.”

He continued: “My general view is that elected mayors centralise power in one individual, they personalise politics, they actually are bad for the diversity of communities.

“For central Government to say you can only have devolution if you accept a mayor seems to me to not understand devolution.

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  • “Whilst the Labour Party is completely wrong-footed, completely in denial that the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books…………….I would say when there is a zero per cent interest rate that is absolutely the time to fix the roof, building homes, building better rail links…………..

    Sadly, Tim has started ‘Clegg Speak’….Corbyn has openly pledged ‘competence’ and that he would not seek to run Budget deficits, although he would increase borrowing “to invest in our future prosperity”. ….

    How does that differ from Farron’s ideas?

  • Corbyn’s Labour pledges something different on the economy (and for that matter everything else) every 5 minutes or so.

  • @ CQ All this negative abuse stuff about Corbyn is not grown up politics. It’s simply a knee jerk echo of the ex-pat non-dom owned right wing tabloids…….. If anything it may well produce a reaction in favour of him.

  • And another thing………………… Time to speak up about the House of Lords rep to the Federal Exec, Tim…. It really is a defining moment of leadership………

  • Tony Greaves 13th Nov '15 - 6:11pm

    ” the deficit needs to be reduced, cleared and to balance the books, ” I am sorry that Tim is still repeating this economic twaddle. (And on its own without lots of explanations and qualifications of what the words mean it is meaningless, as well as twaddle!)

    David Raw – I do assume that if Tim says anything about the Lords repo to the FE, it will be to support the right of the Lords party to elect whichever member we wish.

    John Marriott – in Lancashire at least we say “the Government ARE” and will go on doing so whatever you folk further south may say!

  • @ Tony Greaves : ” I do assume that if Tim says anything about the Lords repo to the FE, it will be to support the right of the Lords party to elect whichever member we wish”.

    Tony, of course you can elect whoever you like…………… but don’t be too surprised that the many of us who think you have got it badly wrong this time will continue to say so…………….. and continue to say that a part of the Governance system of this country whereby individuals are given life tenancy without any accountability is entirely wrong too.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Nov '15 - 7:07pm

    Some of the text is obscured by an advert for Gatwick.

  • @ Jamie Stewart

    “And backing austerity as a policy is just madness anyway!”

    If you’ve still got a deficit of 4% of GDP in an economic upturn and are piling up debt continually, THAT is madness.

    It’s how you do austerity that matters, in terms of balancing taxes paid and spending commitments. That’s where the Tories are wrong.

    Austerity itself is simply the logical consequence of the simple fact that if you carry on adding to your debt pile ad infinitum, eventually you will no longer be able to pay the interest bill on it. It really is that simple.

    How Tony Greaves can assert that this is “economic twaddle” is quite beyond me. It’s plain as a pikestaff to anyone who isn’t in denial about the basics of finance and wants to believe we don’t still have difficult choices to make about spending.

  • Ewen Simpson 14th Nov '15 - 2:46pm

    I agree that the So called Northern Powerhouse is full of froth & no substance. Osborne is trying to set up local cabals which he sees as satisfying local power Egos.
    What is really the way forward is an English Assembly with similar or the same powers as in Scotland – Wales & N Ireland should be upgraded to the Scottish Level. Westminster should only be responsible for non devolved areas such as Defense, Foreign Affairs etc.

  • I cannot believe that I’ve just read that comment from Tony Greaves, Tony Greaves? Is this the same person as Tony Greaves the scourge of the establishment? Tony Greaves that I fully believed would vote to abolish the House of Lords at the drop of a coronet?
    This is supposed to be a consultative party so why don’t our noble Lords ever think of consulting? Why did our MPs forget to mistrust power as soon as it was theirs to wield? This arrogance is not Liberal. If we had an elected second chamber as our party wants then ordinary party members would be involved in their selection so why don’t we all get a vote on a list of prospective peers? Why do our party’s great and good forget about practising Liberalism in this way whenever they get near Westminster?

  • Tony Greaves 14th Nov '15 - 11:40pm

    I hate this site – I’ve just typed a response to Sue S and suddenly it’s all disappeared…I’ll try again. !!!

    I do not want to abolish the Lords. But every time I have been asked (not often I fear) to vote on the future of the Lords I have voted for a fully or mainly elected Upper House (in line with party policy) – ie replacement not abolition. We would have already had the first round of elections if the LD/Nick Clegg sponsored Bill had been passed during the Coalition but it was scuppered by a combination of Conservative backbenchers and the Labour Party in the Commons so it never got to us.

    As for election by the party, that’s how I ended up in the Lords. At the end of the 1990s, the Conference voted to elect a panel of 50 people from which the Leader was asked to choose people to take up LD places in the Lords. The first election (of conference representatives) took place at the conference in 1999. Charles Kennedy honoured this decision and his first list (of eight new peers) in 2000 was drawn from that panel. Unfortunately that system rather withered on the vine as Leaders increasingly ignored it (particularly Nick Clegg) and the party decided to stop renewing the panel. I think it is time to reinstate it, perhaps by OMOV in line with the new system. (But the prospects of any more LD peers in this Parliament are around zero.)

    As for consultation with the party, this is done via party policy making. On many Bills it is difficult to get our own act together in the timeframe, which can be quite punishing. But on draft Bills which go to a pre-legislative scrutiny committee, this could be a really good idea if we can find the resources to do it. (Remember that individual peers get no staffing resources from the House of Lords and the very small new Parliamentary Support Team are stretched to provide support on the stream of Bills that pass through Parliament).

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Greaves 14th Nov '15 - 11:42pm

    By the way, to return to the subject of this thread, the Northern Powerhouse is a dud Tory slogan and not much

  • Thank you for your reassurance Tony. I trust you to get some form of consultation going and hopefully to press for that in all the decision making within the party. If we manage OMOV then the mechanisms may be in place already.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Nov '15 - 5:10pm

    I fear that OMOV is just a mechanism for permanent control by the leadership (because it abolishes “intermediate institutions” in the party). But we will see. But you cannot have consultation on ALL the decisions ALL of the time since people have to get on and do things (even though with modern media the opportunities are greater mainly because commuinication can be much quicker).


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