More than three quarters of Londoners think the government’s flagship “levelling up” policy agenda will have little effect on regional inequalities, aren’t sure what it means or simply don’t know if it will make any difference, according to a poll conducted earlier this month.
Asked if they thought “levelling up” would have an impact on the capital, 14 per cent of respondents to the Deltpoll survey for London Communications Agency (LCA) said they thought it would hurt London compared with nine per cent who thought it be of benefit.
The widespread indifference to or lack of clarity about “levelling up” nearly two months after the publication of Michael Gove’s white paper about this flagship theme of Boris Johnson’s government was found among the same 1,026 Londoners whose voting intentions in advance of the 5 May borough elections, released two weeks ago, indicated that Labour had a huge 30-point lead over the Tories in the capital.
Commenting on the “levelling up” responses, LCA board director Jenna Goldberg said “Londoners appear indifferent at best, if not highly suspicious, towards the government’s levelling up agenda, which is not surprising given that the government’s efforts seem to be directed anywhere but here”.
She added that at times it has felt as if London has been “being penalised for having a Labour Mayor”, notably in relation to the wrangles over future funding for Transport for London. “This is likely to make it even harder for Tory politicians and activists as they try to drum up support for the party on 5 May,” Goldberg said.
Responding to a related question about which politicians they trust to deliver local priorities, Londoners strongly favoured local councillors, with 42 per cent choosing them compared with 16 per cent trusting Sadiq Khan most and 12 per cent trusting national government.
LCA senior adviser Paddy Hennessy, who was Khan’s director of communications from 2016 to 2021, suggested that the pandemic might have played a part in the higher score for councillors, “with people feeling more in touch with their local representatives over the last two years, or simply that they know them better.”
The poll also tested opinion about which politician should decide who succeeds Cressida Dick as the next Metropolitan Police commissioner and found that nearly one third of Londoners (32 per cent) think the current arrangements – whereby the Home Secretary makes the decision while “having regard to” the views of the London Mayor – is the best option, compared with 15 per cent who thought Mayor Khan should choose and 12 per cent who thought Priti Patel should.
A Savanta poll last October found that more than 40 per cent of Londoners thought they knew something about “levelling up” but that almost as many either hadn’t heard of it or thought it was an empty slogan.
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