Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Voters' Democratic Responsibilities

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Voters' Democratic Responsibilities

Article excerpt


IT has become fashionable lately to deride Parliament as a luxury club for career hacks with their snouts in the trough.

We've been let down so many times by a Parliament that's simply given up fighting against a powerful Government obsessed with re-election at all costs, and turned to claiming for duck houses and moats.

But Parliament does contain hard-working and committed politicians, who are seldom in the news but who every now and again pull a rabbit out of the hat and tell it the way it is.

If we're honest, they're about the only meaningful voice that the North East has within earshot of Government. Not a special voice, just the right to tell the truth to a Government often only interested in hearing how wonderful their policies are.

One of the few tools that our MPs have are select committees, where, behind tired-sounding names, our elected representatives are toiling away to try to make things better for us. The public accounts committee has arguably the dullest title of them all. But as Parliament winds down for the anticipated election, its reports are starting to paint a juicy if damning picture of a Government serially betraying its natural supporters, us, the North Eastern voters.

One report, about support for former coal mining areas, criticised the Government for failing to make sure that regeneration benefited people who lived in nearby communities. The Conservative Edward Leigh told off Labour ministers - often from the North East - for forgetting about their constituents, their people, and worrying instead about building business parks.

We also all know that the North East has a problem with funding for hi-tech business. We are sick of being lectured by Government about our poor competitiveness.

But reading another committee report about venture capital finance, we find out that the Government has accidentally and massively subsidised venture capital in the South East and London. …

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