The North is being asked to go ‘cap in hand to a group of masters’ in Westminster for cash, MP Lisa Nandy says

Lisa Nandy has slammed the government’s leveling up strategy, likening it to a feudal system in which the north has to go ‘cap in hand to a group of masters’ in Westminster ‘who determine what happens in our own lives and our community’.

The Wigan MP spoke passionately about how leveling up was a ‘personal’ mission to her, as she accused Chancellor Rishi Sunak of prioritizing London and the south east for cash.

Her comments come a week after the long awaited leveling up white paper was unveiled by Michael Gove, with promises to end regional inequality and the north south divide.

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Ms Nandy was unconvinced by the plan however, she told the Northern Agenda podcast: “I think my frustration with Michael Gove is that although he is talking the right language, he knows that he can’t deliver, he’s hit a real roadblock at the Treasury.”

“I think the central problem is that fundamentally, Rishi Sunak does not believe that most regions of the UK have the ability to contribute to our economic future”, she added.

“I think he firmly believes that London and the south east is the economic powerhouse, it will remain the economic powerhouse of this country and therefore anything that is given to other regions is given only in terms of ameliorating some of the problems and helping to sustain the Tory majority in Parliament.”

Ms Nandy pointed to comments made by Mr Sunak’s aid, Tim Leunig, who claimed that workers in northern towns should ‘accept lower wages’ to compete with the South because ‘London is London’.

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“I think what they fundamentally don’t understand is that within living memory, places Barnsley and Wigan powered this country,” she said.

“We built our wealth and influence and we were at the center of the world. We could be again with a Government that had the same level of ambition for this country and for us as we do for ourselves.”

Ms Nandy said the piecemeal way in which pots of cash were being allocated to areas, via the leveling up fund, towns fund and shared prosperity fund was a ‘major problem’.

She said: “There’s an arrogance to this that sort of reminds me of the feudal system, this idea that we should go cap in hand to a group of masters who can determine what happens in our own lives and our community.

“We will take a very different approach, we will have a partnership with local communities, where they tell us what they need, and we work with them to make sure that they have it.”

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She added: “This is personal to me, this is about whether my friends, my family, or neighbors could stay and contribute and get on, not just about winning votes.”

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Asked whether Labor could sustain their poll lead over the Tories into the next election and deliver their on their own leveling up programme, Ms Nandy said: “There was a moment at the 2019 election when I was watching our entire base collapse, places that have been Labor for 100 years, where once we were them, and they were us, I was watching that collapse in every nation and region of the UK.

“I vowed that never again would we be here watching that happen.

For the full interview with Lisa Nandy listen to the Northern Agenda podcast.

“I say to people, I know we’re not there yet and I know that we haven’t won your trust back yet, but I think people are starting to look again at Labor and I’m determined that when they look, they ‘re going to like what they see.”

A Government spokesperson said: We’ve taken a major step in leveling up right across the UK, announcing a comprehensive package to boost investment in places in need and improve people’s everyday lives.

“This includes investing billions to improve transport connections in our city regions outside of London, boosting skills training and gigabit broadband, and record investment in R&D across the country.

“As well as the money we’re already spending, the Leveling Up White Paper is our masterplan for reversing this country’s striking geographical inequalities and radically improving the United Kingdom.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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