The Manchester-Leeds ARC. Why not?

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The Manchester-Leeds ARC. Why not?

Now that Govey has been given the jolly old heave-ho (as they say at Eton), what will Clarky do that’s different.

Although it made for a cumbersome title, I really like the ‘Levelling Up’ moniker. A sort of socialism for Tories but without the S-word.

But levelling up also means leveling down (think of a seesaw) and the two cities in the country that don’t need any levelling up are Oxford and Cambridge.

But two cities that could do with a leg-up are Manchester and Leeds, so why not have an Arc between them if it’s going to be anywhere. And continue to Liverpool and York. Why not?

All of these are fine university towns. And if we are to level up education, we need to take the froth off Cambridge and Oxford – what a mess the latter’s graduates: Johnson, Gove, Rees-Mogg, Raab,

Hancock, etc., have made of the country.

And they’re not short of a few bob. According to the pressure group ‘The Land is Ours’, Trinity College, Cambridge is the UK’s richest university college with land holdings of 13,335 acres that have been valued at £730 million, but Oxford’s Merton College has more acreage – at 14,707 acres, the college owns more land than any other educational institution. And that’s two colleges.

And our northern universities have super scientific credentials. Manchester is the home of the modern computer called the ‘Manchester Baby’. It was the first electronic computer, and it ran its first program in 1948. (Note to Ed Sheeran: this would make a great song….ooooh, ooooh…my Manchester Baby…ooooh…ooooh you drive me crazy©)

Speaking of which we mustn’t forget Billy Bragg. Not the singer but the father and son team of William and William Bragg who won the Nobel Prize in 1912 from the University of Leeds for their work on crystallography.

And then look at some of the town’s the Arc would go through: Bury, Rochdale, Huddersfield, Halifax and more. This is Red Wall land, and these are places that would welcome investment with open arms (and votes) not with Nimby placards.

Leeds and Manchester already have brilliant transport links so there is no need for a new ‘expressway’– the M62 is fine. And there is no need for a new controversial railway – the trains run every hour or so.

So, come on Greg, you know the Department well from your stint as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

To continue our pop music theme this week, and to misquote the Pet Shop Boys, the message to Mr Clark is simple: Go North.
Have a good weekend.

Tom Curtin