Gordon Brown's review to shape Labour's devolution policies for next election

A commission led by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will put forward Labour’s answer to the “England problem” of transferring more powers from Westminster to local leaders, a senior MP has said.

Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, made the comments as he addressed the New Statesman’s Regional Development in the Age of Levelling Up conference in Manchester yesterday.

Mr Murray said Mr Brown’s ongoing work on Labour’s Constitutional Commission will directly inform its policies on devolution going into the next election.

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“We want to go into the next election with a set of proposals that says ‘the public have been crying out for this’ or ‘the economy’s been crying out for it’ and we need to deal once and for all with these regional economic and political inequalities,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is leading a 'constitutional commission' for Labour. Picture: PAFormer Prime Minister Gordon Brown is leading a 'constitutional commission' for Labour. Picture: PA
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is leading a 'constitutional commission' for Labour. Picture: PA

“These [would be] our proposals to do that on the basis of they’ve been brought to us by a combination of all the research and public involvement.”

Last year, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced the commission led by Mr Brown would “hear from and work with” mayors and council leaders.

Sir Keir said at the time: “Too often the UK government’s approach has been to pit council against council, town against town, city against city, mayor against mayor.

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It’s no surprise that the many local leaders I’ve spoken to have felt distanced and ignored on decisions that have had huge consequences on people’s jobs, lives and their communities.”

Mr Murray said the focus of the commission would be solving the “England problem” of devolution. He said the key question was “how do you make England a much more economically diverse unit”.

Mr Murray said he did not believe it was possible for the Government’s levelling-up agenda to succeed without devolving more powers.

“You need to provide the leverage to be able to do it,” he said. “Levelling up can’t succeed while it is just a slogan. Nobody quite knows what it means at the moment. The problem at the moment is where you level up one area, it tends to come at the expense of levelling down somewhere else.”

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