Balancing Britain: the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and the search for alternatives

My essay for Red Pepper on the dangers and opportunities inherent in the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is a narrative of change or, perhaps more precisely, of reversion to some earlier state of affairs within which the north of England was more confident, more important, and more prosperous. As such, the policy around devolving powers to city-regions within the north has developed into an important dimension of the current government’s so-called ‘rebalancing’ agenda. Accordingly, however, the Northern Powerhouse has inherited many of the conservative connotations of its conceptual parent. Nevertheless, the agenda’s limitations – and even dangers – have not so far detracted from its intrinsic appeal, as the prospect of devolution is used to answer popular concerns about place and insecurity.

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