Manchester’s Bright Future
Those who live in and around Manchester and other cities need to feel part of their community and share its aspirations. Residents who identify with their community are less likely to harm it – whether through terrorism or other anti-social behavior – and are more likely to contribute actively to its renewed vigor.
MANCHESTER – I am a proud Mancunian (as the people of Manchester are known), despite the fact I haven’t lived here permanently since I left school for university when I was 18. I was born in St. Mary’s hospital near the city center, was raised in a pleasant suburb in South Manchester, and attended a normal primary and junior school in a nearby, tougher neighborhood, before attending Burnage for secondary school. Thirty-eight years after I attended Burnage, so too, apparently, did Salman Abedi, the suspected Manchester Arena bomber.
The atrocity carried out by Abedi, for which the Islamic State has claimed credit, is probably worse than the dreadful bombing by the Irish Republican Army that destroyed parts of the city center 21 years ago, an event that many believe played a key role in Manchester’s renaissance. At least in that case, the bombers gave a 90-minute warning that helped avoid loss of life. Abedi’s barbaric act, by contrast, killed at least 22 people, many of them children.
In recent years, I have been heavily involved in the policy aspects of this great city’s economic revival. I chaired an economic advisory group to the Greater Manchester Council, and then served as Chair of the Cities Growth Commission, which advocated for the “Northern Powerhouse,” a program to link the cities of the British north into a cohesive economic unit. Subsequently, I briefly joined David Cameron’s government, to help implement the early stages of the Northern Powerhouse.