Politics

Marginal Tory seats reportedly told to ditch ‘levelling up’ - we have some alternatives

Related video: Simon Clarke loses connection during interview on levelling-up

BBC

Let’s face it: many of us haven’t the faintest idea exactly what “levelling up” entails beyond perhaps a vague notion of improving opportunities across the UK.

Thankfully, Tory MPs in marginal seats are reportedly being encouraged to ditch the lingo from the Boris Johnson premiership because “no one knows what it actually means”.

Introduced in Mr Johnson’s 2019 manifesto which saw his Conservative Party secure a significant parliamentary majority, ‘levelling up’ appeared to relate to “spreading opportunity across the whole United Kingdom”.

Opportunity, that is, not coronavirus – that was in the months and years to come.

In September 2021, the fairly normal-sounding Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government was rebranded the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), and was suitably roasted.

A foreword by the PM to the government’s levelling up white paper in February last year attempted to offer a better definition: to tackle “the regional and local inequalities that unfairly hold back communities and to encourage private sector investment right across the UK”.

And while Tory MPs weren’t going on the record to criticise the campaign to The Times this week, we already know that some Conservatives aren’t too keen on the phrase courtesy of Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry just last year.

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He told Matt Chorley, also of The Times: “No one really knows what ‘levelling up’ means, but when we see it, we’ll all know.”

In a report on Wednesday, one Boris Johnson backer said Tory MPs in marginals have “been told they have to drop levelling up from all their literature”, while “tough decisions” should be “difficult decisions” instead.

Looks like someone at CCHQ got a thesaurus for Secret Santa. Classic.

Another said alternatives to ‘levelling up’ suggested by Tory headquarters included “stepping up”, “enhancing community” or “gauging up” – which sounds like a rejected name for Top Gear.

Clearly, the Conservatives need our help (again), so allow us to offer up some much more exciting alternatives which people will not only love, but actually understand – which tends to be a bonus when it comes to getting people to vote for you.

Rainbow Roading

Look, if they’re going to borrow bizarre gaming terms to describe government policy, and ‘levelling up’ didn’t work, then why the heck can’t they not try naming it after what is arguably the best race track from the Mario Kart series of video games?

All you have to do is promise to sort out some potholes and you’re already onto a winner. Everybody hates those.

Literally galaxy brain thinking, we know.

Hopskotching

We saw “stepping up” and thought the government could go one further and rely on a bit of childhood nostalgia. Bonus points for a promotional dance routine to go with it – Michael Gove would love that.

(to do) The Local-Motion

There can be no finer tribute to the pop culture-loving Boris Johnson than replacing ‘levelling up’ with another pun-based name – this time courtesy of none other than Kylie Minogue and her hit 1987 track, “Locomotion”.

Or should that be… local-motion?

Yes, it’s a play on the word ‘loco’ to reference the community aspect of the policy, as well as the ‘motion’ alluding to local economies moving upwards thanks to the government.

Well, if it wasn’t still dealing with the aftermath of Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget from late last year, that is.

Also, bonus points for a promotional dance routine.

Anyway, amid all this talk of scrapping ‘levelling up’, it’s not clear what this will mean for the DHLUC and whether it will face yet another rebrand.

It comes as preparations continue for next year’s general election, with current polling continuing to place Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour well ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Tories, and a handful of Conservative MPs already confirming they’ll step down in 2024.

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