Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has said that he believes the ‘spirit of Thatcherism’ will help the North of England to raise living standards. Mr Gove made the statement during a speech at the Convention of the North in Manchester.
Mr Gove referred to the North-South divide in the UK as one of the most “profound weaknesses” in the nation’s political economy. He then went on to reference the redevelopment of London’s Dockland area under the Thatcher government as inspiration in the levelling up plan for the country.
He said: “And it is that spirit that animates our levelling-up policies, active government. And that spirit is there most vividly in our plans for new Investment Zones. This country has no shortage of growth industries, whether in advanced manufacturing, renewable industries or life sciences.”
During the speech Mr Gove added that he wants the Levelling Up White Paper, which was released in 2022, to outline the steps necessary to “improve our country’s economic performance,” through - durably, resiliently and equitably.
Political and business leaders from across the north were also present at the conference. In the audience were the Labour mayors of Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region and North of Tyne.
Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy criticised Mr Gove’s comments and referred to the “devastation” the Thatcher years had on the north of England, particularly coal mining communities.
Speaking after conference, she told BBC North West Tonight that Mr Gove’s comments were "extraordinary, after the devastation of the Thatcher years on the North of England It felt like the government was just not on our side, it was attacking the people of the North… that you would have a cabinet minister threatening to harness the spirit of Thatcherism."