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‘D is for dangerous’: devolution and the ongoing decline of manufacturing in Northern England

Berry, CP (2017) ‘D is for dangerous’: devolution and the ongoing decline of manufacturing in Northern England. In: Developing England’s north: the political economy of the Northern Powerhouse. Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research & Policy . Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 85-119. ISBN 3319625608

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Abstract

This chapter considers the recent history, and likely future, of manufacturing in Northern England, with reference to the potential impact of initiatives related to the Northern Powerhouse agenda in this area. The chapter is structured around ‘the three Ds’ of the Northern Powerhouse: deindustrialisation, devolution and de-development. Contesting the view that the Northern Powerhouse can be understood primarily as a process of institutional or constitutional reform, it instead locates the agenda within the long (but limited) history of UK industrial policy. It argues that regional policy has always substituted for industrial policy in the UK state’s ‘horizontal’ support for manufacturing, and that devolution to Northern city-regions is therefore the ultimate expression of laissez-faire industrial policy. However, the agenda touches upon post-crisis concerns around place and empowerment, even while it serves to reduce the control of Northern citizens over their own local economies by offering only a narrow understanding of how economies develop.

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