I've therefore been trying to think of things the other parties are supporting that seem to me to be completely sensible. The best idea I think the Conservatives have is Transport for the North as a key means of supporting a northern powerhouse. To me, it makes real sense to rebalance the UK economy so that more takes place in the north as this spreads income around, makes it possible for more people to have access to a good range of careers without moving south, and makes good use of existing housing stock. Providing a fast and efficient rail transport network between the big northern cities has to be one of the most Green ways of achieving this. Linking the smaller northern towns efficiently into this and creating a tube like network with its own integrated ticketing system also makes huge sense. I do, of course, have criticisms this policy which include:
* why didn't the idea come up four and a half years ago?
* why are we being asked to wait until after HS2 to get started on it?
* if integrated transport is right for the north then why did we break up the national rail system into fragmented private units? Why aren't we nationalising and integrating the whole rail network?
* Is George Osborne planning to do this as a coherent public sector project or as a PFI style expensive mess?
* what is the point in planning so much new infrastructure for the private car if we are going to get an efficient tube style system? In London a lot of people don't bother with cars because public transport is frequent.
Despite these criticisms I think this policy is fundamentally sound and should be supported. Even if that puts me on the same side as George Osborne for once in my life? I don't care where an idea stems from. I do care whether it might help the planet and help the economy. Oh, and I also care whether it is made up on the eve of the election because it sounds like it might win some votes in marginal constituencies and then gets quietly dropped the morning after the election. Well, come on, you wouldn't expect me to be completely naive about the motives of the Conservatives would you??!!