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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 17:58 GMT
North West: Assembly vote
Jim Clarke
Politics Show North West

North East montage
North East regional assembly campaign ignored?

It might have lacked the "High Noon" glamour of Bush versus Kerry but the other election did not get the national coverage it deserved. The run up to the first referendum on English regional devolution was barely noticed by the national media.

The reports that did make it into print concentrated on the public apathy over plans to give the North East its own assembly.

A pity, because what happened in the North East could well dictate what is likely to happen in the North West.

The North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside, were supposed to have their own referendums on Thursday, 4 November, 2004.

The government postponed them earlier this year quoting problems with the integrity of postal ballots.

Few believed that explanation.

Dead in the water?

John Prescott, MP
John Prescott campaigned tirelessly for a Yes vote

The general view was that the postponement had more to do with the fact that there was little, or no, chance of a "Yes" vote in those regions.

So will the North West ever get a chance to make up its mind on regional devolution of government?

Perhaps. In late October, 2004, Local Government minister Nick Raynsford said there would be a referendum in the North West, definitely.

That appears to contradict John Prescott's earlier view that if there is a resounding "No" in the North East there would be little point in holding referendums anywhere else.

Too little, too late?

Politics Show North West looks at what lessons the postponed campaigns could learn from what happened in the North East.

The "Yes" campaign has been widely criticised for doing too little and for being slow off the mark.

The opposition came up with giant inflatable white elephants to symbolise the alleged waste of money involved in a regional assembly.

Hardly a high level of debate but undeniably effective.

The Yes lobby tried to hit back with a giant rat - but it all looked a bit silly.

Harder to combat were claims that the assembly would not have any real power.

The government seemed to recognise the justice of the accusation and at the last minute John Prescott offered strengthened powers over housing and transport.

Whither North West?

So what will happen in the North West?

Politics Show sent pro devolution businesswoman Yvette Livesey and Brian Morris, a vehement opponent of the idea, up to the North East.

They met with campaign leaders from both sides, spoke to the people of the North East and met up with journalists who have been covering the campaign.

They were there in Sunderland for the count and the final result.

So what have they learned from what they experienced?

Politics Show North West with Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan.

Have your say

Let us know what you think. That is the Politics Show, Sunday, 7 November, 2004 at 12.30pm.

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