Labour MPs revolt over Miliband's economic policy

The Northern Echo: Labour Party leader Ed Miliband Labour Party leader Ed Miliband

ED Miliband is facing a damaging revolt by North-East Labour MPs who believe his economic rescue plans for the region are feeble and doomed to fail.

Senior MPs argue a ‘growth review’ – led by Lord Adonis, the former transport secretary – will repeat the Coalition’s blunders and fail to deliver the power and money badly needed.

They are urging Mr Miliband to bring back a slimmed-down development agency and, crucially, install a powerful figure in Government to “drive forward” key North-East revival projects.

But they also fear their pleas are being ignored by the Labour leader’s top team – condemned as a “Corpus Christi Oxbridge crowd” by Nick Brown, the former ‘Minister for the North-East’.

Mr Brown, the Newcastle East MP, said: “It will end up with the councils simply asking for money for specific projects - and that’s the worst possible position to be in.

“What’s needed is a development agency that can identify specific projects and drive them forward, working with a figure in the government with specific responsibility for that.”

Mr Brown said his concerns were shared by the majority of North-East Labour MPs, but added: “I’m not convinced our message is being listened to at the top level of the party.”

The criticism was echoed by Kevan Jones, the North Durham MP, who said: “The Adonis review lacks vision and ambition.

“The problem is that it is all about structures, when we need direct action and a minister at a senior level. We can’t expect councillors to pick it up, when their budgets are being squeezed as well.”

The revolt follows Mr Miliband’s acceptance, in April, of Lord Adonis’ draft growth report, with a final set of proposals due to follow next month.

The blueprint adopts the Coalition’s strategy of devolution to ‘combined’ authorities - such as the one covering Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland – and poorly-funded local enterprise partnerships (LEPs).

The pill was sweetened by a pledge to devolve twice as much cash - £4bn a year – as well as extra responsibilities for welfare, apprentices and housebuilding, but not over inward investment.

Mr Brown said the key weakness was that the structure lacked a focus on economic development, as well as an ability to ensure key projects go ahead.

Recently, the outgoing head of the North-East LEP warned it had just six core staff yet it had responsibility for six, mainly £100m-plus projects.

Similarly, the Tees Valley LEP has warned it may have to abandon economic growth initiatives, because funds are not available.

Mr Brown said: “The means has become the ends. We have got the structures, but it is not delivering for the region – and nor is it likely to.

“If Labour simply picks up from where we are with the existing structures, we will continue to see the poor outcomes for our region that we currently see.”

He said he was not arguing for reviving the One North-East development agency, but a smaller body, chaired by a minister, “so the civil service takes it seriously”.

Mr Miliband has promised to bring back regional ministers – axed by David Cameron in 2010 – after MPs and councils protested they had nowhere to go, to raise crucial issues.

However, Mr Miliband’s office rejected the criticism, insisting there were significant differences with the Coalition’s approach.

A spokesman said: “The key difference is that Andrew Adonis is looking at devolving significant cash and economic powers. This would mean people don’t have to beg ministers for cash - as they have to now.”

Comments (7)

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8:17am Tue 17 Jun 14

MSG says...

What do you expect from the inept leader of a Labour party that has let the north east down for years. Get them out at the next election !
What do you expect from the inept leader of a Labour party that has let the north east down for years. Get them out at the next election ! MSG
  • Score: 23

9:08am Tue 17 Jun 14

Ron Carter-Bonsteel says...

You could not put a fag paper between the political parties. Most are career politicians with not one brain cell between them. It frightens me how they think they can run a Country most couldn't run a bath. Poor Ed is way out of his depth but most prime ministers are as we see posh boys who have never had a proper job in there lives so do not know how the rest of us live.
These Austerity measures are a con we are the sixth richest Country in the World and its people are treated like a third World Country.
My parents fought for this Country as millions of other brave Men and Women did but my parents would turn in there urns at how this Once Great Britain is being run.
You could not put a fag paper between the political parties. Most are career politicians with not one brain cell between them. It frightens me how they think they can run a Country most couldn't run a bath. Poor Ed is way out of his depth but most prime ministers are as we see posh boys who have never had a proper job in there lives so do not know how the rest of us live. These Austerity measures are a con we are the sixth richest Country in the World and its people are treated like a third World Country. My parents fought for this Country as millions of other brave Men and Women did but my parents would turn in there urns at how this Once Great Britain is being run. Ron Carter-Bonsteel
  • Score: 22

10:28am Tue 17 Jun 14

nomad1947 says...

Gentlemen very true but we need a new direction question who can deliver this
Gentlemen very true but we need a new direction question who can deliver this nomad1947
  • Score: 5

11:38am Tue 17 Jun 14

Ron Carter-Bonsteel says...

nomad1947 wrote:
Gentlemen very true but we need a new direction question who can deliver this
Agree with you who can deliver this? All I want is a fairer society for all the old,vulnerable,disab
led,unemployed and not to label us all scroungers dole walkers etc. It's easy for millionaires and multi-millionares to have a go at the less fortunate. I know we have some who don't want to work or contribute to society but the majority do I live in a deprived ward in the town and have lived on deprived wards nearly all my life and very proud to know some wonderful kind people and the not so kind and nasty people who prey on the most vulnerable the more worse you are in Society the more you seem to get on just my opinion of what I have seen and learnt over my 56 years.
Going back to your question who can deliver this haven't a scooby-doo 'clue'
Maybe that's what puts people like me off voting who knows?
[quote][p][bold]nomad1947[/bold] wrote: Gentlemen very true but we need a new direction question who can deliver this[/p][/quote]Agree with you who can deliver this? All I want is a fairer society for all the old,vulnerable,disab led,unemployed and not to label us all scroungers dole walkers etc. It's easy for millionaires and multi-millionares to have a go at the less fortunate. I know we have some who don't want to work or contribute to society but the majority do I live in a deprived ward in the town and have lived on deprived wards nearly all my life and very proud to know some wonderful kind people and the not so kind and nasty people who prey on the most vulnerable the more worse you are in Society the more you seem to get on just my opinion of what I have seen and learnt over my 56 years. Going back to your question who can deliver this haven't a scooby-doo 'clue' Maybe that's what puts people like me off voting who knows? Ron Carter-Bonsteel
  • Score: 2

12:04pm Tue 17 Jun 14

punkrocker says...

had the miss-fortune to see and hear Michael Foot but this wally is even worse. If labour keep him its 5 more years of tories punishing the sick, old and poor.
had the miss-fortune to see and hear Michael Foot but this wally is even worse. If labour keep him its 5 more years of tories punishing the sick, old and poor. punkrocker
  • Score: 18

1:15pm Tue 17 Jun 14

durhamchap says...

I'm sorry after what Gordon Brown did to the economy I still don't trust Labour and not one Labour MP has denied they messed up the economy.
Ed Milliband does not impress me - looks like he was bullied at school.His brother David was the obvious choice and would have been the better leader.
I'm sorry after what Gordon Brown did to the economy I still don't trust Labour and not one Labour MP has denied they messed up the economy. Ed Milliband does not impress me - looks like he was bullied at school.His brother David was the obvious choice and would have been the better leader. durhamchap
  • Score: 25

6:58pm Tue 17 Jun 14

spragger says...

Good to see all this Labour infighting, bodes well for GE2015

Do you think RedEd knows his way to the NorthEast, our carpetbagging Labour MP's are lost
Good to see all this Labour infighting, bodes well for GE2015 Do you think RedEd knows his way to the NorthEast, our carpetbagging Labour MP's are lost spragger
  • Score: 10

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