HOW can a failed Conservative initiative like “levelling-up” – put in place by a failed Prime Minister — possibly be used by this failed government as part of its pre-election advertising?

The slogan “making a real difference and a brighter future for local people and businesses” seems extraordinary when for their main success in South East Cornwall the Tories cite the magnanimous return of Liskeard’s beloved public library – when that same much-loved community asset was forced to close due to a lack of local government funding as a result of Conservative government austerity. Or perhaps we should feel “levelled up” by the comments of our local MP that new tennis courts in Torpoint have “levelled up” sports provision.

So, I’m left wondering what is “levelling up” and what does it actually mean? 

To me “levelling up” should mean greater equality in wealth and opportunity, a country where there is less of a chasm between the wealthy and the poor, an equal spread of investment, with a boost to those areas that have been left behind. 

Unfortunately, South East Cornwall is one of those areas left behind, overlooked and underfunded. Towns like Callington, Liskeard and Looe have lacked real investment time and again. They have slipped into a downward spiral of poverty. Looe is in the top 20 per cent of towns for levels of child poverty, and an incredible increase of 400 per cent in the use of food banks since the last election. I can’t imagine the residents of Looe are feeling particularly “levelled up” by the revamp of Liskeard library or new tennis courts in Torpoint.

Despite being a 2019 Conservative manifesto flagship policy, “levelling up” is another failure – described by Thomas Pope, deputy chief economist for the Institute for Government, as “another ineffective government funding pot that is neither large enough or targeted enough to make a dent in regional inequalities”. This is a strong argument when the size of the fund is £4.8 billion, compared to the £10-billion cut to local government spending since 2010.

The Conservative government is simply trying to be seen to be giving with one hand while in reality taking away the other.

Our local councils need pulling back from the brink through better funding, assistance in delivering desperately needed housing, and investment in community projects and initiatives. It is time for change and a government that values and funds our vital local services that impact on the day to day lives of everyone. We must work together to make those changes and embrace new and innovative funding strategies to make real change to all.

Historically, South East Cornwall voters have returned Tory or Liberal Democrat MPs. However, that picture has changed over the past 14 years, with the Lib Dem vote collapsing from 19,170 in 2010 to 8,650 in 2019, while the Tories have consistently failed the people of South East Cornwall.

The Labour Party came second here in both the 2017 and 2019 general elections (source: and, according to independent polls, is currently a clear 16 points ahead of the Lib Dems in this seat.