Has the North East got a ‘begging bowl mentality’?

I attended a fascinating discussion last night, organised by the Webb Memorial Trust at the IPPR North offices, called ‘Reducing poverty in the North East – what can we do about it?’

At the event, somebody from a private sector organisation stated that he thought the North East had a ‘begging bowl mentality’ and this was somewhat supported by another comment that someone thought the ‘North East should be leading, not pleading’. Both of these comments were in the context of a perceived lack of political leadership within the region. It is not the first time that I, or others in the North East, have heard similar remarks. At another recent event, a representative of the private sector suggested that the public sector in the North East had a ‘reputation for whingeing’.

I find this very interesting, mainly because when those outside of the party political system highlight perceived inequalities or disadvantages they presumably do not see themselves as whingeing, begging or pleading. For example, when think-tanks point out regional (or other) inequalities they are presumably seeking to ‘influence policy’ and when, for example, businesses campaign against disadvantageous trading conditions they are, presumably ‘petitioning’ or ‘lobbying’ the government.

So, politicians representing people ‘whinge’, businesses and think tanks representing other interests (including shareholders) ‘petition’.

In a properly constituted system of society……….

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