High streets revival plan is Labour’s ‘red wall’ chance – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE was an element of electioneering to the launch of Labour’s Rebuilding Our High Streets Commission as Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor, campaigned alongside Tracy Brabin, the party’s West Yorkshire mayoral candidate, in Dewsbury.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodd (second right) with tracy Brabin at the launch of Labour's high streets policy review in Dewsbury.

However the Government does not – and should not – have a monopoly on policy and the emergence of new ideas is key to the revival of once-proud town centres and high centres where the societal and economic problems are profound.

What Labour does need to accept is that the retail sector is, like it or not, evolving – the findings of the policy review will, inevitably, come too late for some stores – and the challenge is creating the right mix of stores, housing, leisure facilities and other attractions in order to create a ‘virtuous circle’.

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And its initiative will have far more credibility if it involves people with genuine experience of the retail economy rather than friends of Labour more inclined to tell Ms Dodds what she wants to hear – namely it’s all the fault of the Tories – rather than what she needs to know. There’s a sublte difference.

What more can be done to support towns like Dewsbury?

But Labour should go further if it is serious about winning back the trust of voters in those ‘red wall’ seats which turned Tory at the 2019 election. It should be using this period in the political cycle to be presiding over a far greater policy commission on ‘levelling up’ so that it has a far more credible – and costed – policy prospectus to put to the people in time.

That’s what a party committed to social equality and opportunity across Britain should be having the courage to undertake if it is serious about listening to the people. And such an exercise will have far more substance than platitudes like “the North can no longer be an afterthought for this government” – the current default response of Jim McMahon, the Shadow Northern Powerhouse Minister, to these matters and many more here.

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Anneliese Dodds is Labour's Shadow Chancellor.