A regional morning newspaper has fired a pre-election shot across the bows of the political parties by launching a campaign to preserve it’s region’s identity and voice.
Called Case For the North East, the new campaign by Newcastle-based daily The Journal comes amid controversy over the future of the region’s development agency One NorthEast.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently gave an exclusive interview to the paper’s Westminster-based political editor Will Green in which he claimed the Conservatives’ plans to reduce the agency’s role amounted to a “declaration of war” against the region.
The story was the paper’s splash on the day editor Brian Aitken spoke about the campaign at the North East Economic Forum, sharing the stage with leading business and political figures including Chancellor Alistair Darling.
The new campaign comes ten years after the newspaper launched Case For the North which highlighted the North-South divide and the region’s funding gap with Scotland.
Said Brian: “Those issues have not gone away, but despite that the region has been able to make some remarkable progress but that has only been achieved by the North East acting as one for the good of the whole region.
“We felt we had to take a campaigning stance because today, as we stand at an economic and political crossroads, that North East unity is under threat.”
“The North East is a clear and distinct region – not part of a generic North. With an election coming up, we felt it important that politicians were reminded that the North East has made progress by acting in a unified way.”
The campaign focuses on six key issues facing the North-East region – its identity, voice, economy, culture, connectivity and pride.
It has already won widespread backing from business leaders and local politicians and MPs from all parties.
Added Brian: “We are witnessing so many changes to our regional structures – the Arts Council North East is being folded in with the North West and Yorkshire and our local BBC is now being run from Manchester for example – and we are at a key stage in the development of future industries such as electric cars and wind power.
“Any attempt to devolve strategic and spending powers to councils and having too many decision makers sat outside our region would jeopordise that progress.”
Onlooker (01/03/2010 10:53:55)
Anyone who thinks another 5 years of Gordon Brown will be good for the North East needs their head examined.
Geordie (03/03/2010 13:44:15)
As the electorate made clear when comprehensively rejecting the idea of a regional assembly the North-east is not ONE distinct region, it is several, despite the efforts of the elite and several newspapers such as the Journal to pretend otherwise. People in Newcastle don’t care about Middlesbrough or vice versa, and no amount of ludicrous PR speak such as “regional identity” or Newcastle-Gateshead will change that, and papers such as the Journal, Sunday Sun and the Northern Echo should stop trying to kid themselves if will.