Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, has announced that Labour would appoint Regional Ministers in Government to support Labour’s city-region growth agend, giving the South West its own champion at the cabinet table.
This is part of Labour’s plan for radical devolution of power to England’s great towns and city-regions.
Regional Ministers would facilitate relationships between Local Enterprise Partnerships, Local Authorities and central government; advise Ministers on the impact of local and regional policy; bring existing structures and the private sector together to encourage investment; and would be a visible representative of their area in Whitehall.
Labour has also pledged to set up a Regional Committee sitting in the Cabinet Office, made up of all Regional Ministers and Chaired by the Minister for the Cabinet Office to monitor local and regional policy outcomes.
Michael Dugher, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
“Our belief is that regional growth demands sub-regional initiatives, co-ordinated and driven forward at regional level.
“Labour is pledging to introduce Regional Ministers to put the voice of the English regions at the heart of Labour decision-making. They will help to shape policy around local and regional interests with a view to correcting the regional inequalities that have arisen under the Tories.
“Regional Ministers would not be a replica of what came before, but rather would be complementary to our agenda to devolve more power to city-regions.
“Regional Ministers would bring together central government, business and local authorities, advise Ministers on the impact of government policy in the regions and promote inward investment.”
Michael also critiqued David Cameron’s modernising project, pointing to early totemic policies which have been abandoned in Government:
“Like Cameron, Harold Macmillan went to Eton, but Macmillan’s political outlook was shaped by his serving in the First World War, a misery he shared with men from all backgrounds, and as MP for the northern industrial constituency of Stockton-on-Tees. David Cameron stands up for a privileged few not because of where he went to school, but because, unlike Macmillan, he has never really been anywhere else.
“David Cameron has failed to convince his party, because he preferred instead to regularly compromise with his party. One Nation Conservatism now appears little more than a PR exercise that has given way to the re-emergence of divide and rule, core-vote Conservatism.
“David Cameron now clings to the outdated ideology of ‘trickle-down’ economics - a model whereby growing prosperity of a few at the top eventually benefits others, in spite of growing inequalities between classes, ages and regions.
“The result is not just that David Cameron’s Government now occupies the political territory against which he once defined his modernising project. Far worse, the aspirational majority who work hard, pay their taxes, who want to get on and do well, are working harder for less.”
Responding to the announcement, Helen Holland, leader of Labour group on Bristol City council, said:
“The South West has its own unique character, opportunities and challenges. From the urban clusters of Bristol, Plymouth and Exeter, to our beautiful coastal towns through to our rural farmland, our region has potential to go from strength to strength, and contribute far more than it currently does to the wider UK economy. To do this, the people who live and work here need to shape our future. A South West regional minister to be that voice at the cabinet table is both welcome and wise. We are ready to deliver.”