Dr Paul Salveson, like LWM’s George Morranand Cllr. Phil Davis, campaigns for directly-elected regional government. He and others from the North met on November 11th in the station pub at Sowerby Bridge, near to the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, and agreed to form a Northern ‘think tank’ to develop the case for directly-elected regional government for the North of England – either as a whole or for the three regions which make up ‘the North’.
It has been named after Hannah Mitchell, an outstanding Northern socialist, feminist and co-operator. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is not a ‘party’ organisation: members now include Labour, Greens, Lib Dems – and lots of non-aligned people, rooted in ethical socialist traditions of mutuality, co-operation, community and internationalism.
Dr Salveson, its General Secretary, is visiting professor at the University of Huddersfield, in the Department of Transport and Logistics. This involves some lecturing and developing projects such as the recent conference on HS2 The North on November 15th. He was awarded an MBE for services to the rail industry, originated and developed ‘community rail’ and was directly involved in the establishment of over twenty community-rail partnerships, leading to increased use of local and regional railways and additional investment.
The Hannah Mitchell Foundation campaigns for a devolved structure of governance for the North, based on the key principles of democracy and subsidiarity, social equity and justice, and sustainable development in its social, environmental and economic senses.
The Observer article issued ‘a big challenge, but one that must be met’: “Britain must look beyond London, put faith in manufacturing and redress the balance of wealth to benefit the regions beyond the south-east”.
George focussed on the UK’s dependency on the manufacture of arms, while at the same time being forced to import trains, trams and other manufactured goods from abroad. He asked:
“Would it not be possible – with the level of Government support currently given to BAE and its supply chain – to fill some of these more local needs?
“The UK’s manufacturing heritage was founded on local manufacturers meeting local needs, firstly agricultural and later the needs of the coal, iron and related industries. We need to move back to this more localised approach to manufacturing”.
He observed that leaving the future of manufacturing to the global market place is unlikely to lead to local manufacturing responding to local needs and ended by pointing out that:
Localise West Midlands has publisheda report about Community Economic Developmentwhich sets out in some detail a more localised approach to economic development. It demonstrates the significant benefits of more locally-owned economies in creating successful, socially just and diverse places and highlights how a locally-focused approach can be fully integrated into conventional economic development.
It is fitting, as the last post paid tribute to LWM’s founding member George Morran, that this one takes up a theme related to the work George has undertaken for many years. LWM co-founderColin Hines recently wrote in response to Peter Wilby’s advice about creating:
“. . . a fairer Britain with a better balance between the returns to capital and labour . . . to build a common alternative to “the free market show” and to consider how the EU, currently a tool of international capital, can be turned into something better”.
“Site here to sell here” policies in every EU country, allied with “invest here to prosper here” constraints on cross-border money movements, would allow nation states to see off big business’s most potent threat – relocation.
Governments also need to be able to take back control of immigration in order to meet the democratic wishes of their people, to lessen pressure on social provision and to prevent the permanent loss of the brightest and the best from poorer EU countries.
Peter Wilby is right that no one country can protect its inhabitants from the ravages of open borders and that changes have to come at a European level. However, it is unreasonable to expect such courage from politicians alone. The politically active must get out of their issue-specific comfort zones – be they social policy, environmental protection or reducing inequality – and realise that their campaigns are rendered more difficult with open borders.
The protection and rebuilding of local economies and hence the re-establishment of local political control is the goal Europe must demand.
Just a quick post by way of recognition and thanks to one of our key founder members. George Morran, who has been vice-chair of Localise West Midlands since 2007, has stepped down from that role – though I’m glad to say is continuing to be a member of our board.
George has deputised effectively for LWM’s chairs over this time, being there when the chair is unavailable and supporting me as coordinator whenever needed. He also brings in a sound knowledge of the Black Country’s and Birmingham’s manufacturing past and of how this can be maintained in the future, and uses his extensive knowledge of local and regional government to help us with networks, contacts and to engage with governance policy and reform.
George’s other role within LWM’s board – which won’t be a surprise to those who know his past work – is to remind us to always consider the whole of the West Midlands region in our work rather than becoming too Birmingham-centric. LWM is a regional organisation, set up soon after the regional assemblies and development agencies and with a view to working with them. Regardless of the Coalition’s lack of interest we still find the region a a useful scale in which to operate because it encompasses urban and rural areas and helps focus on their interdependencies – as well as its EU recognition.
Nevertheless, our active members’ and associates’ familiarity with Birmingham means that we can often be drawn towards a city-centric view, so I’m glad George is prepared to keep making this point!
So our thanks to George for seven years’ hard work as our vice-chair as well as much longer service on the board.