Writing exclusively for The Northern Echo ahead of Durham Miners' Gala, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn promises an environmentally-friendly industrial revolution as part of a multi-billion pound programme to tackle the North-South economic divide

COMING to Durham feels like going home. The Miners’ Gala represents the sense of community and togetherness that defines Labour and our trade union movement.

What makes the Gala so special is that while it looks back and reflects on our shared history, it is about setting out our vision for the future too. The past we inherit, the future we build.

The strength and courage of miners and the families who supported them fuelled the industrial revolution, civilised our country and powered the North.

Durham teaches the whole country and the world about the struggles our movement has been through - and how successive Conservative governments have always hit the North the hardest.

The mining industry was decimated under Margaret Thatcher, consigning to the scrapheap communities that powered up this country and fuelled its growth.

Under the austerity of the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition, and then the majority Tory Government, the gap between the North and London has grown ever wider.

Since George Osborne launched his Northern Powerhouse in 2014, transport spending per person has gone up twice as much in London as in the North.

Schools have faced cuts across the country. But more than one in five primary pupils in the North West, and one in eight in the North East, are in classes larger than 31. In London, only 7% are.

The Conservatives have slashed council funding by up to 50%, forcing many northern authorities to axe crucial services.

But the North is now set to see council spending cuts of over three times that of the South.

And average household wealth is higher in all of the southern regions than the North, and more than twice as high in the South East compared to the North East.

The Tories and Lib Dems didn’t devolve power to the North. They devolved austerity - and superpowered it to northern communities.

They also scrapped the development Labour had been driving in the North.

Labour’s Regional Development Agencies, which saw every £1 spent generating £4.50 for the local economy, were axed. So was Labour’s Northern Way strategy, which envisaged creating a corridor of growth across the Pennines from the ports of Liverpool, Hull and the Humber up to Teesside.

Osborne’s pale imitation, the Northern Powerhouse, had no finance or power.

Now we face the prospect of Boris Johnson as our new Prime Minister.

This week with his shameful refusal to support our ambassador to the US, Johnson has shown that he won’t stand up to Trump and he won’t stand up for Britain.

So how can he stand up for the North? Especially when he’s promising tax cuts for the richest that will increase still further the wealth gap with the South?

And how can he deliver the infrastructure projects the North needs when his big ideas as London Mayor - the ‘Boris Island’ airport and the Garden Bridge – ran up huge debts and were scrapped before a single brick was laid.

After destroying northern industries in the 1980s, the Tories and Liberal Democrats superpowered cuts to the north in the past decade.

Labour will superpower a new industrial revolution for the north with a record investment blitz.

Where the mines fuelled the first Industrial Revolution, renewable energy will deliver Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution and 400,000 new jobs.

Off the coast of Hull in the North Sea, what will be the biggest offshore windfarm in the world is set to power a million homes. The Humber is being turned into an Energy Estuary, with companies like Siemens, whose investment was encouraged by a Labour council, creating a thousand local jobs building wind turbine blades.

To encourage more of these high-skill, well paid and secure jobs - and boost growth across the North - Labour will establish a National Investment Bank supported by Regional Development Banks so investment gets to where it’s needed.

And as our Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, a proud northerner, revealed last week, Labour’s £250billion National Transformation Fund to improve our transport, energy and digital infrastructure won’t be based in London and managed by Westminster mandarins.

It’ll be based in the North, working with Mayors and local representatives so it can be more receptive and responsive to the needs of northerners.

To improve growth and connectivity across the north we’ll not only deliver Crossrail for the North – providing faster train travel between our great northern cities – we’ll reverse the cuts to bus routes, help councils run their own bus services, and, if they do, fund them to offer free bus travel for under-25s.

New jobs in the North will require new skills, and Labour’s National Education Service will provide free life-long learning, allowing people to retrain throughout their lives - and we’ll fully fund our schools.

And people in the North will see a massive programme of house building, including council houses.

As the miners in the first Industrial Revolution were given shovels and axes to dig for coal, Labour will give the North the tools and support it needs so you can deliver your future.

The choice at the next General Election will be stark.

A Johnson-led Tory Government that will slash taxes for the richest and pursue a reckless no-deal Brexit that will hammer jobs and economic prospects in the North.

Or a Labour Government that will deliver the real change you need, and provide billions of pounds of investment so you can genuinely Power Up The North - for the many not the few.