One of the few good things to come out of 2022 could be the gear shift toward devolution. Here at DevoConnect we have long been of the view that more power needs to be devolved away from Westminster and Whitehall. But will the year of the rabbit also prove to be the year of devolution?

This week, both party leaders set out their vision for the next year. In Starmer’s speech, devolution, levelling-up and the infamous slogan ‘take back control’ took centre stage but what was the Prime Minister really promising?

Given Sunak is the one who has the power, he focused rather too much on delivering short-term wins. But it is clear that both parties are now in ‘Manifesto Mode’ from here on in.

Unlike his predecessors, he has decided to under-promise in the vain hope he might deliver.

The fact is our Prime Minister will have to spend most of the next year firefighting the variety of crises the country is now facing, It’s not an easy job and it’s hard to see how his 5 pledges will unlock the economy the votes he needs.

Of course, Sir Keir has the benefit of not having to deal with the short term, or “sticking plaster” policies, allowing him the privilege of looking ahead to the long-term prize.

Coming off the back of Gordon Brown’s report ‘Renewing out Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy’ it is now clear how Labour would devolve and decentralise power. Keir shows no sign of stopping the devo-drive…

To hear more about what further devolution might entail, come along to our symposium on the 19th of January in Manchester, where we discuss: Can Devolution Deliver Good Growth?

Starmer said that he would announce plans for devolution “in the coming weeks” and that they would be a driving force of the party’s manifesto, government, and renewal. It is said by those close to him that he really believes in a shake-up of Westminster. He has run institutions of the state before, and it appears that he doesn’t think this one is being run very well.

Expect to hear more policy dripped out from Labour in the coming year, as he sets out the case for change and illustrates what his government would do differently. Don’t expect too rash though, as Labour just need to keep on keeping on if they are to stay where they are in the polls. It is because of the polls, as well as the economic whirlwind which we find ourselves in right now, the chances of a General Election this year are very slim.

If you are in public affairs and wanting to influence Labour, then now is the time. This year will likely be the last year that they are not in power for the foreseeable future. So, start building connections and contacts, before Shadow Ministers become swamped with their briefs and before their manifesto is released.

Hope you have a great 2023!