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NONE THE WISER: PM’s speech of ‘meaningless soundbites’

NONE THE WISER: PM’s speech of ‘meaningless soundbites’

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes arrives for the North of Tyne Combined Authority meeting at Newcastle Civic Centre, Image: NCJ Media

Boris Johnson left the North East “none the wiser” about the Government’s levelling up agenda in a conference speech of “meaningless soundbites”, according to Newcastle’s Labour leader.

Nick Forbes condemned the Prime Minister’s address at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday, which has been criticised for a lack of policy announcements.

The Newcastle City Council leader said that Mr Johnson “missed the opportunity to announce anything of real substance, short of a few meaningless soundbites and catchphrases”.

The PM told his audience in Manchester that transport was “one of the supreme leveller-uppers” and that the Government will “do Northern Powerhouse Rail”, a project to boost train connections between the North West and North East coasts, but industry leaders have also expressed disappointment at the lack of detail offered.

Coun Forbes added: “While he spoke about his ‘levelling up’ agenda, we are none the wiser as to what that means and how it will benefit towns and cities, like Newcastle.

“While the Prime Minister certainly received the reaction he was hoping for from his adoring crowd at the party conference, the rest of us have been left with more questions than answers.

“We didn’t hear meaningful solutions to any of the issues that matter to people today: support for those whose Universal Credit payments have been cut, tackling the social care crisis, meeting environmental targets, stacking the shelves of supermarkets, addressing violence against women and girls, and countless more problems we continue to face.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that this Government doesn’t hold any of the answers, and has no handle on the reality of the lives people live.”

Mr Johnson did announce a “levelling up premium” of up to £3,000 to get “the best maths and science teachers to the places that need them most”, though critics quickly pointed out that a similar scheme had been launched by the Department for Education in 2019 before later being scrapped.

Seeking to define what the Government’s levelling up agenda actually means, he said: “The idea in a nutshell is that you will find talent, genius, flare, imagination, enthusiasm everywhere in this country, all of them evenly distributed, evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.

“And it is our mission as Conservatives to promote opportunity with every tool we have.”

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


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