Redistributing power is only route out of national malaise – Nandy

The crisis in Britain’s public services presents an opportunity for “national renewal”, Lisa Nandy has said.

The shadow levelling up secretary said Labour’s plans to redistribute power away from Whitehall were “the only route out of our national malaise”.

She also attacked the Government’s levelling up missions as “vague” and “disingenuous”, promising to replace them with more “tangible” targets while ending an “overreliance” on GDP as a measure of success.

She said: “It is at times when things feel so fundamentally broken that real change becomes possible.

“And that’s why we will rise to this moment of national renewal, not to be defeated by the clamour for change but to meet that ambition for change and oversee a great rebalancing of power and prosperity across the whole of the United Kingdom.

“This is at the heart of our nation’s future and it is that recognition that this is the only route out of our national malaise that gives me the confidence that we will succeed this time.”

Cabinet meeting
Minister for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Nandy made her comments during a speech on Tuesday at the Institute for Government, and echoed the think tank’s claim that the levelling up missions announced by Michael Gove last year would not reduce regional inequality.

She said: “Longer healthier, happier lives, blighted by less crime and supported by good public services are not an aspiration for government, but a right that any government worth its salt should strive to realise.

“Instead the Tories have taken their failure to deliver the most basic public services, taken their ideologically driven crusade to run down our key institutions and twisted it into a perverse plan to keep shifting the goal posts on their record of delivery.

“We are calling time on this. We say if you can’t deliver it, don’t write it down.”

She added that Labour would focus less on GDP as a measure of success, saying: “GDP can tell you a lot about the relative productivity of a region or a whole nation, but very little about the health of a nation, the strength of a community, the resilience in the economy and family finances.

“And our overreliance on this one measure is one of the central reasons why we have not succeeded despite a century of trying.”

In place of the Government’s levelling up missions, Labour would set new goals intended to deliver “tangible outcomes” and based on resilience, connectivity, sustainability and wellbeing.

Ms Nandy said this change of focus would allow a future Labour government to succeed where past ministries had failed to reduce regional inequality.

Along with replacing the Government’s levelling up missions, Labour has proposed a Take Back Control Act to redistribute power away from Whitehall and towards local communities.

Ms Nandy said the Act would “flip the presumption of power” by requiring Westminster to explain why communities could not have control over areas such as housing and transport, rather than requiring communities to request those powers.