'Boris Johnson's promise of levelling up is nothing but a cruel Tory illusion'

You couldn’t help but feel for the Queen as she gave that speech to Parliament this week.

It was bad enough sitting there without her recently deceased hubby, or having to keep a straight face when, as a billionaire hereditary monarch, she announced a policy to “level up” the gap between rich and poor.

But to have to read a list of pledges from Boris Johnson knowing he’ll have forgotten what he told her to say by next week is as humiliating as having your 72-year-old son sitting next to you looking like he’s part of Take Your Child To Work Day.

As dire as Labour’s election results were, and Keir Starmer’s response to them, a mild form of hope seeps back on hearing stooges of this right-wing Tory government claim they’re on a mission to make Hartlepool and Dudley as affluent as Chalfont St Giles and Esher.

The only levelling up they want to see concerns their shares portfolio.

Currently, with vaccines being put in arms, furlough money rolling in, and pots of spare cash being used to tart up towns battered by years of austerity, Tories can offer the illusion they care about working-class lives.

But it is a cruel illusion.

The Queen's Speech had more empty Tory pledges, Brian Reade says
The Queen’s Speech had more empty Tory pledges, Brian Reade says

As soon as the pandemic spending splurge is over and the eye-popping debt needs settling, their backbenchers will ensure Middle England taxpayers do not foot the bill and you’ll see more slashing than in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Making Johnson’s levelling-up agenda a bigger joke than John Major’s Cones Hotline.

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There was no mention in the Queen’s Speech of the social care bill Johnson said he had ready when he moved into No10 almost two years ago (remember him promising Barbara Windsor he would fix it in his first publicity stunt?).

But there was also no mention of the manifesto pledge to introduce a bill to overhaul the private rented sector, banning unfair evictions.

Or the promised employment bill of workers’ rights which was supposed to protect against exploitation after Brexit.

Presumably, rich party donors pointed out that the worst insecurities of renting, like the gig economy, are bad for people at the bottom but fantastic for their profits.

Johnson has had a lucky year. The vaccine rollout (which was down to scientists and the NHS) diverted attention away from his criminal handling of this pandemic, while a sparse Commons chamber, plus a passive Opposition, have saved him from public maulings.

But wait until the spending taps are turned off and it becomes clear, even to the most gullible, that he was selling snake oil.

That those growth forecasts are based on bouncing back from the worst year since records began.

That jobs have vanished with an unreformed Universal Credit system unable to bridge the gap.

That the lifetime further education guarantee was an idea stolen from Labour’s manifesto he has no intention of properly funding.

That Brexit hasn’t brought the golden future he promised. That inflation has gone up meaning so too will taxes.

Once the euphoria of defeating Covid and hugging in pubs again has passed, people will be left as ­disappointed as a county court chasing a £535 debt.

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Because Johnson specialises in letting people down. Or levelling down as it will soon become known.


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