Skip to content

Everyone a winner!

Engagement, consultation and Levelling-up

It is often thought that there is no need to consult about good news. Only bad news.

Consultation, presumably is thus seen as a safeguard for those whose interests are threatened; a requirement for fairness before rights or services are taken from them.

So, is the ‘levelling-up’ idea a reason for unalloyed rejoicing as good news? The Prime Minister certainly thinks so, and his July 15th speech is a tour de force of optimism. How can anyone disagree?

Maybe outright opposition will be hard to find. More prevalent is a weary and widespread scepticism. The Johnson penchant for hyperbole, colourful language and exaggerations may indeed irritate the ‘elite’ (that miscalculated once before!), but beneath it all is a serious argument trying to get out, and one that raises interesting questions about the extent to which the public should be consulted.

Stated simply, the PM’s argument is that ‘levelling-up’ is an idea whereby everyone benefits. It is counter-intuitive. Those of us with long experience of public consultations have become accustomed to a world where there are generally winners and losers. On this occasion, we are told that this is not the case. Everyone wins. To illustrate his message, Johnson refers to the precedent of East Germany where billions were poured into its economy and social infrastructure and achieved a twenty-year miracle of ‘levelling-up’ the reunited country.

Leaving aside the special factors that make this a questionable exemplar, let’s concede that not every gain for a ‘left behind’ area has to be at the expense of somewhere currently more prosperous.


Access to this content is exclusively for Institute members

Not a member? Unlock this article and more today by signing up for a Consultation Institute membership. Benefit from access to over 300 Topic Papers and Briefing Notes, discounted rates on all public training and more. Click on Join Now today to find out more and sign up.

About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

Read more about Rhion

Scroll To Top