Monitor: North-south divide

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Regional newspapers reflect on the Prime Minister's speech about the economic and social divisions between north and south

Northern Echo

IT IS difficult to dismiss the entire North-east of England as some economically ravaged wasteland, not least because that would be grossly unfair to all those who are trying, and often succeeding, to make life better here. We agree with Blair that it is easy to over-simplify regional differences. But we believe a fresh look at Government funding of the regions is the most sophisticated way of addressing the inequalities that indisputably exist.

The Western Mail

SO THE North-South divide is a myth. This at least is the message the Prime Minister would have us believe. Wales and its economy has never conveniently fitted into any English definition of North and South, neither geographically nor economically. But that didn't stop opposition politicians in Wales taking an interest in what the audit had to say on regional aid. The end result of this report may not be to debunk the myth of a North- South divide, but to trigger a review of the funding which goes out to each point on the compass.

The Birmingham Post

TONY BLAIR has awoken to the consequences of having the majority of the national wealth concentrated in one corner of the country. What caused this Pauline conversion is not exactly clear. Perhaps it was the proposal to build 1.1 million homes in the South-east? Perhaps it was a fear he might not be able to make any money when the time came to sell his home in Sedgefield.

Yorkshire Post

WITH ONE swish of statistical sleight of hand, Tony Blair yesterday claimed to have made the gap between the depressed North and the affluent South disappear. It was vintage Blair. He bathed his audience in the warm language of inclusivity and togetherness. He spoke of healing old wounds and ridding Britain of needless inequality. But no matter how clever Mr Blair's use of statistical smoke and mirrors, few of his bedrock supporters will have been duped by the conjuring trick.