i Editor's Letter: The not-so-desolate North
Oliver Duff was appointed Editor of i in June 2013. He was previously Executive Editor at The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday, running the newsroom. Formerly a reporter, gossip columnist and news editor, he was fired as the magazine's bar critic after three weeks. A diver and surfer, he's interested in nature and science, politics and diplomacy.
Wednesday 31 July 2013
I go back again and again to the North-east of England, to an inn run by friends at Greta Bridge, the hamlet immortalised by Dickens in Nicholas Nickleby. A hike along the river takes you through Turner country, Co Durham, past the sites of a Norman keep and Roman fort, a brisk breeze tugging at your collar and blasting away the city bustle.
Presumably this is the “desolate” North-east dismissed yesterday by the Conservative peer Lord Howell of Guildford – George Osborne’s father-in-law and a former Energy Secretary – when he said there was “plenty of room” there for fracking, and fewer environmental concerns than “beautiful natural areas” elsewhere.
Some in the North-east would appreciate the jobs created by fracking, no doubt. Before pronouncing on the region again, though, Lord Howell might take a hike through the unspoilt countryside; the deep purple heather on the North York Moors.
Nearby Middlesbrough has been attacked as the worst place to live in Britain, the gag going that the best thing about the town is the A19 out of it, but Teesside has an industrial beauty, inspiring the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner – where flames lick the night sky. Like many of our other cities, ’Boro is trying to find its feet in a post-industrial economy. There is room for hope: research laboratories have put down roots alongside the feted cultural rise; Sunderland is undergoing a tech makeover. What Gladstone called the “infant Hercules” can rise again.
I’d second the Archbishop of Canterbury’s riposte to Lord Howell last night: “North-east England is very beautiful, rugged, welcoming, inspiring, historic, advancing.”
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 The top 50 cities for young people to live in