By DAVID WOODING in Manchester
The North-South divide is wider than at any time since the 1980s – with a huge gap in unemployment levels, school standards and health.
It presents a golden opportunity for David Cameron to succeed in Labour’s traditional heartlands by tackling this age-old problem.
But what can the Tories do for the North? Tonight we will attempt to answer that question at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
I will be joining a panel of fellow Northerners to discuss what action can be taken to bridge the traditional gulf over the next few years.
With the electoral battleground moving further north, we will be asking why the Tories did so badly in the North at the last election and how they can do better next time.
Is it time for the government to have a proper strategy for the poorest counties in the land? And at a time when public services are being cut, what hope is there for a region which relies so heavily on them for work?
The panel includes Manchester MP Graham Brady, YouGov pollster Anthony Wells, Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council and David Skelton, deputy director of Policy Exchange think tank, who are organising the event.
The event kicks off at 5.15pm tonight in the Novotel Centre, 21 Dickinson Street, Manchester.