Why ‘levelling up’ now stands for lazy politics – The Yorkshire Post says

NOT an hour now passes with Boris Johnson – or any of his team – making reference to ‘levelling up’ in an attempt to convince TV viewers and voters that they have a plan for government after Brexit and Covid.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak when interviewed by The Yorkshire Post last summer.

Yet more than a year has passed since the promise to end North-South inequalities became a defining theme of the December 2019 election – and no one, not even the Prime Minister, is any the wiser about what this agenda means.

All that has happened is that Ministers have hijacked the phrase ‘levelling up’ – and used this lazy politics to try and soothe the nation’s ills – when it was originally coined as a way to galvanise the Northern Powerhouse.

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And this is borne out by the considered interventions by Philip Rycroft and Lord Kerslake. Two of the most respected civil servants of recent times, they are both steeped in Yorkshire and want the county to flourish.

Boris Johnson is still to define the Government's levelling up agenda.

They also know exactly how Whitehall operates – or does not – and their misgivings about ‘levelling up’ happening, and in what form if it does, is a salutary warning about the importance of maintaining pressure until the demands of the agenda-setting Power Up The North campaign, spearheaded by The Yorkshire Post, are honoured.

Prompted by decades of under-investment in the region’s creaking infrastructure, it’s also driven by a desire to ensure the North’s 15 million people have the same quality of opportunities that exist elsewhere – and most notably on school standards and skills policy which is fundamental to the region’s future prosperity.

And while it is encouraging that the Budget is likely to seek Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirm plans to open a Treasury office in Yorkshire, such symbolism will be quickly dismissed as tokenism if there’s not the policy prospectus – and pounds and pence – necessary to power up the North at last.

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