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The UK government is using `levelling up' to hide a crackdown on political dissent | Open Democracy |

Every British prime minister has a set of flagship policies that defines their legacy in office. For Margaret Thatcher, it was privatisation and deregulation. For Tony Blair, it was investment in public services and the Iraq War. For David Cameron, it was austerity and the `Big Society'.

What about Boris Johnson? For many, the answer is obvious: Brexit. But when it comes to domestic policy, the prime minister has yet to leave his mark on the country. After a year spent fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the closest thing his government has to a flagship policy is the much-trumpeted "levelling-up" agenda.

Officially the aim is to tackle the UK's stark regional inequalities and "rebalance opportunities" across the country. Unofficially it's about cementing Conservative support in traditional Labour strongholds in northern England and the Midlands.

But while the broad objectives may sound sensible, in recent weeks frustration with the policy has been growing. Some have denounced the agenda for being vague and ill-defined, while others have accused the flagship Levelling Up Fund and Towns Fund of being convenient conduits for pork barrel politics.

by Oui on Fri Jul 16th, 2021 at 06:29:59 AM EST
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