Why levelling up needs political consensus in 2022 if left behind areas are to be transformed after Yorkshire snubbed – The Yorkshire Post says

HOW times change. Six months ago, Sir Keir Starmer’s future as Labour leader was being openly questioned before Kim Leadbeater’s narrow win in the hard-fought Batley and Spen by-election.

Boris Johnson's government is still to publish its levelling up white paper.
Boris Johnson's government is still to publish its levelling up white paper.

Now it is Boris Johnson whose reputation is in ruins, and office of Prime Minister diminished by scandal, while the country awaits the long-overdue levelling up white paper in 2022.

And the challenges for both leaders are significant at a time when voters are so suspicious of politicians from all parties who over-promise and under-deliver.

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First Sir Keir. His call for a bespoke Yorkshire plan will resonate here even more so after Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 were dramatically scaled back. His challenge now is turning critical soundbites into a broader policy prospectus.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a bespoke levelling up plan for Yorkshire.

Next Mr Johnson. Assuming he’s still in post, he must show that his London government actually understands the importance of education – equality of opportunity for all – as well as setting out benchmarks by which the performance of the London Government can be judged.

What this region – and other parts of the country classed as ‘‘left behind’’ – needs is an end to tit-for-tat political exchanges that actually detract from the policy-making process.

Where there’s agreement, and both parties do have much in common on levelling up, they should not be afraid to say so. Where’s there’s disagreement, let the exchanges be constructive – not destructive – because social mobility is an issue that will transcend all future governments of whatever political persuasion.

And let’s also end a culture which, according to one off-the-record exchange from an ex-special adviser in the Levelling Up department, saw plans for One Yorkshire devolution thwarted by Tory self-interest because they were “almost guaranteed to have a built-in, perpetual Labour majority”. That’s not the way to make policy and build a consensus. Or do politics.

Boris Johnson's government is still to publish its levelling up white paper.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a bespoke levelling up plan for Yorkshire.