The Socialist 5 February 2020 |
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Will the North get investment and transport infrastructure?
HS2 - The second high speed line in Britain - government advert
- Tories promise the earth, but fail to deliver
Boris Johnson has pledged to earn the trust of working-class voters who 'lent' him their vote in the general election. One of his catchphrases is to 'level up' the Midlands and the North with increased investment earmarked for infrastructure.
After over a decade of austerity, can the Tories now be trusted by former Labour voters? Any promises given on improvements should be put in context of years of Tory neglect on transport infrastructure, which have taken their toll in these regions.
In the north of England, the average speed of trains between main cities is just 46mph. It takes longer to travel coast to coast in the North, than it takes to travel by Eurostar from London to Paris.
Tory governments have a track record of promising the earth, then failing to deliver. Past pledges of their intention to improve rail, road and bus links consistently fail to materialise.
2017 figures highlight the extent of neglect. Transport spending in London was more than all the areas of the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine combined. If the North had received the same amount for transport per person as London, then £66 billion more would have flowed our way over the past decade.
Where will the money for increases in investment come from? The HS2 high-speed rail project could cost £106 billion - more than double the estimate from five years ago.
It will take years to complete and inevitably go over budget again. It will be the working class which pays the human cost - doing exhausting work on the lowest wages and conditions the Tories and their friends in big business can get away with.
The only way to really level up the conditions of working-class people is through the fight for socialism.
The majority of those who lent their votes to Johnson can be won over by a programme which includes fighting for the nationalisation of the railways, buses and transport infrastructure projects - all under democratic workers' control as part of a planned economy.
Elaine Brunskill, South Tyne and Wear Socialist Party