‘Levelling Up,’ much like the Cameron Tory ‘Localism’ before, has become one of the Johnsonian Tory watchwords at which the Government funnel every problem outside of London, with a particular emphasis on their forward electioneering across the unexpected 2019 wins across the areas misappropriately named ‘The Red Wall’.
But what is ‘Levelling Up?’ – Do the Tories themselves even know?
On the face of it, the answer to this question is a clear and hearty yes. Yet the confused crossover with ‘Build Back Better’ – which may well be a cynically deliberate move, along with actions such as Culture Minister Nadine Dorries suggesting recruitment at the BBC needed to include more people from working backgrounds instead of using ‘tokenism’ as a recruitment tool when the two things are exactly the same thing, instead tell us that the Conservative Party is clutching at straws when it comes to the question of what real ‘levelling up’ across society is really about.
New infrastructure that improves any community’s way of life, rather than white elephants or the pet projects of out-of-touch politicians that nobody outside of the sphere of government ever accepted as being needed, will always be a good thing.
But the barriers to personal development and the issues of social mobility that come together to tell us that equality in its truest sense does not exist across British society today, cannot be addressed by the quality or existence of a road, railway track or building.
The problems certainly won’t be cured by rejecting left-wing labels for positive discrimination that favor and promote so-called diversity, then replacing it with another set that are only more acceptable because they badge the problem in ways which are more palatable for those on the right wing.
The problems that we have across society; the problems that are stopping people from different backgrounds, races, locations, demographics, sexes, genders or whatever way you want to identify them from ‘getting on’ and achieving a good standard of living as a minimum is simply about the way differences between us are perceived by those with power and influence.
It is a process that exists right from the very start in the way that teachers behave with us as very young children and extends right through every area of life or every activity that prepares us up to how Universities recruit and then how recruitment decisions are made by hiring managers throughout our entire careers.
The ‘discriminatory’ decisions and choices we are talking about here are not the ones that can be catered for or eliminated by rules that are published and made available for reference in any kind of handbook.
These are the innate prejudicial decisions made by those individuals at a level below active consciousness.
They are decisions and choices informed by the prejudices that exist because of personal experience and conditioning. Ways of looking and perceiving the world around us that many people are simply unaware of because they do not self-analyse, reflect or enjoy their reality at the level of self-awareness. And self-awareness is a force for our collective good that in many cases can only be achieved through life experience, rather than it being a skill for life that can be taught.
No, there’s nothing wrong with not being self-aware. But in an age where everything available to us is teaching us that life is ridiculously easy and getting easier all the time, it should come as no surprise that we have a culture where teachers, academics, public servants and even managers across industry mark down, work against or rule out candidates for jobs, opportunities and progression based simply on a feeling or resistance about someone that they do not consciously understand. It is a travesty that they are actively aided to do so by the procedures and rules that years of rights and diversity promotion have created that actively allow bad decisions to be covered up by simply following procedures under umbrella terms such as ‘due diligence’ or ‘good practice’, therefore hiding these inherent wrongs in plain sight.
It is clear that the people who lead us – and by that, I mean the politicians on all sides of today’s political divide – either don’t understand or don’t want to understand the real depth of the problem that faces the UK as far as the realities of anything synonymous with ‘levelling up’ under any political model or leadership is concerned.
This is a reality that should be troubling for us all. It suggests that as a Country and as the Communities that are together part of that Country – right down to our neighborhoods and streets, we are moving further away from a place where people are being actively encouraged to understand and help each other.
It tells us that the measures being taken to address a problem that these people do not themselves understand are quite perversely making the situation worse. And the solutions being touted are at best no more than sticking plasters being applied to what are the ones of many problems that are only effects of a problem that will keep multiplying outwards until such time as we address the actual root cause.
The politicians that we have today are simply not equipped with the ability, understanding or motivation to deal with the problems that we face in a different, meaningful and beneficial way.
Like many of the issues facing society – many of which are interlinked to the issues surrounding real equality in all things, the complexity of the issues and the determination and resolve that it would take just to begin the process of turning this decline in our personal, cultural and community wellbeing around, is just too big for these people to tackle or to risk dealing with – if indeed they do in any way understand.
The seemingly endless march of greed and the reverence for wealth, luxury and money now feel like we are on an unstoppable date with destiny where it will not be politicians, but events that are out of their control which will ultimately turn the tide.
Community and simple living are the key to returning us to a place where we have the values and the willingness to learn about, understand and accommodate the differences that are inherent in all others – no matter how they might otherwise look or be perceived.
This is the real ‘levelling up’.