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Levelling Up: A Vision for Communities and the Future of the United Kingdom

Ahead of a speech by Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove convener of the book Levelling Up 2.0: A Blueprint for the Future written by leading One Nation Conservatives, Sir Robert Buckland addressed the launch meeting with his vision for the future of the seminal topic.

In a recent speech at the book launch of Levelling Up 2.0: A Blueprint for the Future, former Cabinet Minister and One National Conservative MP, Sir Robert Buckland reflects on his personal journey and the transformative potential of the levelling up agenda. Drawing from his own experiences growing up in South West Wales, he discusses the challenges faced by communities affected by industrial decline and the importance of government intervention. With an emphasis on the wellbeing of people and the revitalisation of forgotten regions, Sir Robert expresses his enthusiasm for the policy and its potential impact on the United Kingdom as a whole.

A Journey Back in Time

Explaining about his upbringing and why he is so passionate about the subject, Sir Robert outlined his upbringing in a part of the United Kingdom that suffered greatly from industrial decline. He shares a common background with a certain former debating adversary, Michael Gove, highlighting how both their communities experienced the collapse of industries that had once been their lifeblood. The speaker’s personal experience with the decline of the steel industry serves as a poignant example of the challenges faced by those whose lives were intricately tied to these fading sectors.

Inspiration from Visionaries

Sir Robert expressed his hope and encouragement upon witnessing the Conservative Government’s actions in the 1980s, spearheaded by leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Michael Heseltine. He highlighted the creation of development corporations in areas like Liverpool and Cardiff Bay, which brought about an economic revitalisation and positively impacted the lives of individuals within these communities. For the speaker, these interventions signified a targeted, appropriate, and sensible approach to long-term governance, transcending short-term political cycles.

“It’s not just about bricks and mortar and roads and bridges, important though they are. It’s about the people.”

Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland KBE MP

The Essence of Levelling Up

Moving forward, Sir Robert shared his excitement at being part of a cabinet that supported a manifesto embracing the core principles of his long-held vision. He emphasised that Levelling Up is more than just infrastructure development – it is a policy centred around people and the often overlooked, left-behind communities. It is not just about bricks and mortar, Sir Robert explained, underscoring that the true essence of the agenda lies in transforming lives and providing opportunities for all.

A Collaborative Approach

Delighted to collaborate on a book promoting a comprehensive and One Nation perspective on the policy, Sir Robert highlighted the need for tangible results rather than mere slogans. He praises a white paper sponsored by the following speaker, Michael Gove, emphasising its detailed approach and the inclusion of metrics and ambitious targets. He argued that a resolute focus, accountability, and cross-parliament collaboration are vital for the success of the policy in the long run.

Working Directly with Local Government

To underscore the policy’s effectiveness, Sir Robert recounts his experience administering the Shared Prosperity Fund for communities in Wales. He has spent a career working directly with local government and witnessing the value they placed on engagement with central authorities. He takes pride in highlighting success stories and the positive impact of meaningful collaboration; Sir Robert demonstrates the potential for change and the importance of acknowledging the unique needs of diverse communities.

As a passionate and committed Unionist, Sir Robert emphasised that the essence of the United Kingdom lies in its communities, towns, and villages. He stressed the need to invest in the potential and quality of every community, so that individuals are no longer forced to leave their hometowns to achieve success. He emphasised the importance of embracing the digital age and remote connectivity, enabling talented individuals to lead and contribute to the development of their communities.

Making Levelling Up a Reality

Sir Robert concluded by urging local and regional leaders in the audience to take an active role in making levelling up a reality. He highlights the contributions of outstanding regional leaders and their ability to bring about positive change through meaningful devolution. He stresses that meaningful devolution, rooted in substance and purpose, must be the foundation of the levelling up agenda. With a blueprint for success in hand, he concluded by expressing optimism and the urgency to move forward and turn plans into action.

Final Thought

The levelling up agenda represents an ambitious vision for the future of the United Kingdom, aiming to uplift and empower communities that have been left behind. By sharing personal experiences, emphasising collaboration, and promoting meaningful devolution, Sir Robert conveyed the policy’s potential to transform lives and unite the nation. With a call to action for local and regional leaders, Sir Robert’s message echoes the belief that no community deserves to be left behind, and that by investing in people, the United Kingdom can thrive and prosper together.

This is the first in a series of features on the recent Curia book launch, Levelling Up 2.0: A Blueprint for the Future.

Watch the full video here:

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