IT has been the honour of my life to serve as the Member of Parliament for the City of Durham. Ever since I was elected, I’ve been proud to use my platform to stand up for Durham, and to shout for infrastructure and investment in our region which has, all too often, been neglected by Tory governments in Westminster.

Now, I have been honoured to accept a role in Labour’s Shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) team, as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Angela Rayner. 

It’s a privilege to be asked to join the shadow LUHC, and be a strong voice for the North East at a time when the Conservative’s pledge to “level up” our region has been hollowed out as an empty slogan. 

When I speak to people across our region about levelling up, an eye roll usually follows. But when they see their old unreliable transport network, their shrinking pay packet, or their rising tax bill that year-on-year sees them paying more for less, who frankly can blame them?

Tory levelling up has not materialised. A small pot of funding here, and a project feasibility study there. Constant promises of jam tomorrow, while poverty rises and people in County Durham are left further behind. 

The Government announced 12 “levelling up missions”, but in the two years following it hasn’t shown how it will achieve them.

It is a political failure that, on Rishi Sunak’s watch, levelling up has been relegated to a secondary concern.

Meanwhile the wealth of potential in our region continues to go untapped. We have a rich industrial heritage, that once placed us at the heart of the industrial revolution, but now we’re being held back from being at the forefront of the green industrial revolution. All because of a Conservative ministers’ who refuses to deliver the leadership we need to make Britain a clean energy superpower to cut bills, create thousands of good jobs, and deliver energy security. 

I know our communities across the North are crying out for change. They can’t afford another five months of Tory rule, never mind five more years. 

So, where the Tories have failed, Labour will deliver.

Good jobs and secure homes are the foundations of thriving lives; of a strong economy and resilient local communities. 

With question marks over long-promised infrastructure, house building collapsing and wages stagnating in the North, the Government’s agenda is a sham.

A slogan alone won’t pay decent wages. False promises won’t build secure homes. And a soundbite won’t empower local people and local communities to take control of their futures.

If Labour is to level up from the ground up, it means backing the place I’m proud to call home – one that has been overlooked by this government for almost 14 years.

With Labour we’ll give the state the active role our economy needs, fixing the Britain’s broken labour market with a New Deal for Working People. 

We’ll pass a Take Back Control Act to push decision making powers over issues like transport and childcare out of Westminster and closer to local people. And we’ll give businesses the confidence they need to invest in our infrastructure and people with a new National Wealth Fund and a mission to have cheaper, zero-carbon electricity by 2030. 

In the North East, the National Wealth Fund will invest in thousands more jobs, industrial decarbonisation in Teesside, port upgrades, new electric vehicle battery plants, insulation for 700,000 homes, and hundreds of local power projects. 

For the Labour Party, we don’t see investing in communities in the North East as an act of charity.

Instead, we see it as a way of unlocking the potential of our whole country. True growth means benefiting all people in all places, providing decent jobs, secure housing, and educational opportunity for everyone. I’m proud to be playing my part.