Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Battle for Pulling Power in Election Tug-of-War; Brown Warns of Tory Cuts for North East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Battle for Pulling Power in Election Tug-of-War; Brown Warns of Tory Cuts for North East

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Pattinson

THE region was again thrust to the centre of the General Election tug-of-war yesterday as Gordon Brown claimed Conservative cuts would hit the North East "first and hardest".

Speaking in London the Prime Minister said the area had already been singled out as "the first place for the axe to fall".

Yet there has so far been no admission from Labour on where specifically their cuts would fall.

The Labour leader's comments came just two days after Tory leader David Cameron cast the North East as a key pawn in the election battle, saying the public sector here had grown too large.

Speaking at a conference for young people yesterday Mr Brown said: "They (the Conservatives) have Sunderland in their sights... Hartlepool, Redcar, Durham.

"Then it will be Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Morpeth - and what begins with the towns and cities of the North East will not end there - but will set the blueprint for their attacks on jobs and investment in the North West, the Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber too."

He continued: "If you want to protect jobs and public services you have to vote for it. And vote Labour... If you want to stop the cuts to the North East, North West, in and every region in our land you have to vote to stop them and that means voting Labour."

Business Secretary and former Hartlepool MP Peter Mandelson also waded into the argument centring on the region yesterday accusing the Tories of planning to give the areas outside the South East less support.

Lord Mandelson said: "Let's be clear what (Mr Cameron) means. Scrapping the business-led Regional Development Agencies that bring investment and jobs to the regions. Scrapping Labour's innovation and venture capital funds working in the regions. Scaling back the regional skills programmes."

Speaking in the North East yesterday Mr Cameron said comments he made in the BBC interview suggesting the size of the public sector in Northern Ireland and the North East was too large had been "willfully misinterpreted". …

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