This is not how to level up the country

Ben Derbyshire

Gove’s 12-point plan is hardly the Roosevelt New Deal we were promised, writes Ben Derbyshire

There is no denying the necessity for levelling up. Disparities between the haves and have-nots have been growing for decades. Just recently, behaviour in the Westminster bubble has only served to accentuate the disparity. Even if it were not for the bad taste left in voters’ mouths, we are already two years into a parliamentary term for a party for whom ending inequalities was supposed to be a manifesto centre-piece. The danger for government is that Gove’s announcement is already too late.

To regain support that brought its landslide majority in time for the next election, government must be mindful that structural changes can be controversial and take forever to implement. The 2030 timeline for 12 missions on productivity, education and transport is well beyond the current parliamentary term. The electorate will be quick to see through short-term, inevitably superficial, re-allocations of cash with only transient outcomes. Regions, towns and cities targeted by this policy have seen cuts that the existing £10bn commitment in no way restores – and the similar sum written off over wasted PPE spending puts the investment into perspective.

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