If Levelling Up scheme is just a political football, voters may not forgive the Conservatives or the SNP – Scotsman comment
For far too long, this country’s economy has been dominated by the mighty powerhouse that is London, with too little effort expended on helping other parts of the UK achieve anything like the same wealth and prosperity.
Some may regard that idea as little more than a pipedream, but there is a good example of how economic performance can be transformed. When West and East Germany reunified, the government there put in place a well-funded plan that dramatically transformed the former communist state.
As the former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake, noted in 2019, “Germany has moved towards becoming one country… some parts of the North [of England] now have lower productivity than in some parts of East Germany when unification happened. But Germany made a conscious effort to bring the two parts together. Compare that with the stop-start, underpowered policies we’ve had in the UK.”
The question that many are asking is whether the UK scheme is accompanied by the necessary funding to make a real difference, or whether it is little more than a number of isolated projects – that, while welcome, will not achieve a significant and lasting transformation – and a whole lot of political rhetoric.
It is also clear that Levelling Up is designed to boost support for the Conservatives in the north of England and for the Union in Scotland. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing as the ambition is still a good one.
However, it has resulted in a political row with the Scottish government, who view the plans as a ‘power grab’ and an attack on devolution.
The risk is that Levelling Up will become a political football and, as our two governments occupy themselves with playing that game, Scotland’s economy will suffer.
What we need now is for our elected leaders to act in the best interests of their constituents and put people before politics.
Given the years of austerity after the 2008 financial crisis, the years of Covid, and what is a growing cost-of-living crisis, the public may not forgive them if they do not.
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