Ed Miliband in his speech at the Labour Party Conference used the phrase ‘one nation’ 57 times with reference to his concern to reduce the divide between the rich and the poor, and particularly between the bankers and the rest of us.
His 65-minute speech was made just yards from the site of Disraeli’s famous One Nation speech in Manchester and he told his party conference that Britain is being governed with one rule for those at the top and another rule for everyone else.
Recent statistics show that indeed the gap between the rich and the poor is growing in the UK with wages at the bottom end falling in real terms whilst top executive pay continues to rise.
Channel 4 covered the report by the High Pay Commission, which said that average wages have risen by around 300 per cent since 1980, while the highest paid company executives’ pay increases have soared by more than 4,000 per cent over the same period.
The report recommends, among other proposals, that companies publish a ratio reflecting the difference between the top and the median wage. It also calls for executive pay to be simplified, and for the establishment of a new body to monitor high pay.
Similarly, statistics comparing economic growth and unemployment indicate that the North fares much worse than the South of England.
Against these depressing statistics, for those of us living in Yorkshire if we think positively we can list several very important advantages of living in this region.
All our big cities and towns have:
- Easy access to beautiful countryside and historic sites – wonderful for tourism and people interested in outdoor pursuits
- A number of excellent higher and further education institutions on the doorstep offering excellent access to a skilled and educated workforce – Bradford University and Bradford College right here in Bradford, as well as Leeds, York, Sheffield, Huddersfield and others too many to mention
- Outstanding culture that far outstrips that in Manchester – our rival over the Pennines. We have Opera North, Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse to name just a few – and of course the wonderful Al Hambra Theatre in Bradford
- Dedicated and passionate people, proud of their great heritage and keen to support the economic and social regeneration of their cities
- And, as a consequence of the North South divide, we also have very low house prices!
Bradford has all these advantages, and more. However on the other hand one of the key disadvantages hampering the attraction of businesses to Bradford is the poor transport infrastructure, specifically the lack of good rail connections, including the absence of a good rail link to Leeds-Bradford airport.
Business lobbying groups in Bradford, such as Bradford Breakthrough, which represents Bradford’s leading private and public sector businesses, are pushing hard for the allocation of funding to support such a link from the £1bn transport infrastructure fund for West Yorkshire that has recently been established. Let us hope they are successful.
Every country in the world battles with these problems of divide, whether it’s which side of the railtracks are more prosperous or the growing gaps between rich and poor.
How is your country tackling these – and what do you think is most likely to be successful for your country – and the UK?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below