Is ‘levelling up’ actually ‘equity’? And isn’t equity a form of communism? Why are the Tories flirting with it?

There’s a reason why Chamonix has more skiers than the Riviera. Using public funds to build an artificial ski slope in Nice whilst giving grants for ski hire companies and subsidising visits might buy votes but ultimately it is still a taxpayer-funded illusion.

‘Levelling up’ is supposedly going to save the Johnson government. It’s a list of 12 pledges that will be achieved by 2030, including things like R&D outside the South East will increase by 40% and the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy will have narrowed. It is being sold as a way to make the regions of Britain more equitable and the country less envious of London.

But isn’t it really just a way of centrally planning the economy? Setting quotas and outcome requirements is not the democratic, Tory, free market way of doing things. Why is the Conservative party pushing these socialist policies?

In theory, as always with ways of spending other people’s money, this initiative can be spun to sound great. What’s not to like about wealth being shared outside the South East? Why shouldn’t other areas benefit more from wealth creation?

The trouble is that in practice making everyone more equal works by making everyone have less. Sure equality of outcome is achieved, but it is an equality of misery.

Look at a recent example in the US. Teachers wanted to improve equity – the equality of outcome – in mathematics. It sounds great, but the solution was to stop teaching advanced classes to gifted students. Equality of outcome was achieved, but at the price of those who could have achieved more being stymied. No one received a better education. When you read the Levelling up pledge that the Healthy Life Expectancy gap between areas will have narrowed, this is the way it will most easily be achieved.

Insisting that equity is important and that output quotas must be achieved around the country is the stuff of Soviet Five Year Plans. It means that quotas for x, y and z will be achieved, not because x, y and z are needed but because government money is available for achieving x, y and z.

Levelling up sounds like a great slogan. But it contains within its DNA something antithetical to the Western democratic approach to a free life unencumbered by excessive government regulation.

Why are the Tories involved in this socialist thinking? Presumably they are borrowing from the leftist playbook, He who pays the voter gets the vote. Socialism is of infinite attraction to the envious, but its public money hose waters a field of votes that leftist parties have always tried to harvest. It is sad to see a Conservative party attempting the same trick.

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