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Levelling Up “Dead” Under Tories, Accuse Labour

The Shadow Levelling Up Secretary told the Labour Party Conference that her party is “coming back to finish the job of the New Labour Government”.

At the conference, Nandy revealed Labour was now working with the former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane, who was previously commissioned by Michael Gove to develop the Government’s levelling up strategy.

Haldane is now working with Nandy on the Labour Party’s strategy for regional growth.

Building a better country

Speaking at a fringe event organised by right wing think tank, Onward, alongside Tory MP and author of Levelling Up Our Communities: Proposals for a New Social Covenant, Danny Kruger, Nandy said “They came to this conference because they can see that levelling up under the Tories is dead. It is the only answer for the country and Labour is where it’s at.

“That gave me a lot of confidence that the prize isn’t just within our reach – that better country that we want to build – but it’s absolutely within our reach. I never thought I would say this three years ago either.”

Nandy added that “Two years ago, I came to a conference and said that we have a mountain to climb to win the next general election, she said. “We’d lost our entire Labour base in every nation and region of the UK. And it wasn’t clear whether there was a route back for some of the voters that we’d lost in the places that we love.

“And in the last couple of years, we’ve proven that we are fit to govern and that is largely accepted by the public. This conference is about proving to the country that we’re ready to govern, that we have a plan, a vision, and a strategy for all people in all places to get this country working again. We are at the top of the mountain looking outwards.”

Sir Keir Starmer

Although he name checked levelling up just once in his speech, at his speech to the conference, the Labour leader was keen to seal the ‘levelling up mantel’ from the Conservative Party. Sir Keir said “Clean energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels. Nine times cheaper. We just need more of it. This is about fair growth powered by clean British energy everywhere in the country.

“That’s what levelling-up really looks like: practical Labour solutions, not empty Tory slogans.”

Giving a speech to activists in Liverpool, Starmer said: “Just because the Tory commitment to levelling up is dead, doesn’t mean the idea of levelling up is dead – Labour will take it on.”

Starmer also told the crowd that he had brought in former prime minister Gordon Brown to help at look at “new forms of economic devolution”.

Levelling Up Mentioned in Sir Keir Starmer's speech
Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer addresses Labour Party Conference in Liverpool

Final thought

There are serious concerns in Westminster, particularly from ‘Red Wall’ MPs that levelling up is dead under the new Truss administration.

The sacking of Michael Gove and the failure to reappoint him to government has raised many concerns in local government that the localist agenda of the previous government has been sidelined.

Famously redefining levelling up as “a plan for growth”, the Chancellor has singlehandedly changed the tone and focus of the Department for Levelling Up. With supply side changes including planning reform likely to dominate the agenda of the Department in the weeks ahead, it seems unlikely that there will be much capacity to focus on the spreading of Mayoral Combined Authority deals or further devolution of powers unless through the prism of levelling up.

The Labour Party this week exposed this shift in tone and characterised it as a nail in the coffin for the once heralded tagline of the Johnson Government.

Curia at Conservative Party Conference

For Conservative Party Conference next week, Curia will host a roundtable and broadcast to understand where next for the levelling up agenda.

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Register here: https://chamberuk.com/events/

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