Debate: Is London draining the life out of Britain?

Share

 

Don’t punish the capital for being such a success

By Head of Business at the Evening Standard and the Independent, @JamesAshton

Britain without London at its heart is unconscionable – like a crown without its brightest jewel. I write this not as a Pearly King or as someone born and bred in Chelsea, but a son of Huddersfield who has made Europe’s biggest metropolis his home.

Without London, its money and its bling, Britain would still be mired in recession. Take the City’s financial services hub, a magnet for wealth that would otherwise be in New York or Hong Kong. The theatres and restaurants draw captains of industry.

Diluting London’s star across the country would be detrimental – not advantageous. Sure, such gold-plated prosperity is mithered about in the provinces, but creates a halo effect that supports jobs in Bournemouth and Leeds. Consider the statistic that one pound in every five earned by Londoners is used to fund the rest of the country, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

There is evidence that the north-south divide will widen. George Osborne’s strategy of reducing corporation tax is gradually taking effect. But the HQs relocating here from Bermuda or the Netherlands are coming to London, not Birmingham or Edinburgh. It is a challenge for politicians to close the gap.

Foreign investors on the hunt for flagship property assets that have been priced out of London have started looking further afield, like the Norwegians who snapped up a stake in Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre. It’s hard to detect that global interest along the bombed-out High Streets of Rochdale or Dewsbury. But that is no reason not to celebrate London’s success.

 

We need to feel at home – we need Tamworth

By Deputy Managing Editor of the Independent @SeanOGrady

Is it so radical to think the time has come to eject London from the UK? It seems almost cruel to confine this world city within Britain. With its huge financial services sector, plus tourism and other powerful engines of growth, not to mention the absurd property prices, London feels more and more like a foreign land.

All it does, as Vince Cable says, is attract the brightest and the best away from the rest of the country, leaving it denuded and only semi-occupied. Far more than Scotland, this world city could easily justify its existence as a separate state, not on ethnic or historical grounds, but pragmatic, present-day needs; a modern-day Venice, marked equally by elegance and prosperity. For the sake of London and the rest of the UK, we need to think radically.

The rest of us need a new capital city we can afford to live in and feel at home with – a capital city, probably just for England, needing a new parliament, a new royal palace, new industries, and a new start for the rest of us. It ought to be somewhere relatively central, and with scope for building the world-class monuments, properties and infrastructure an English capital demands.

Yes, that means Tamworth. Previously best known as the home of the Reliant Robin, a gingery breed of pig, and a “manifesto” for reform published by the 19th Century Conservative statesman Robert Peel, it has vast potential and would move the centre of economic growth at a stroke towards the long-neglected North. Take this as a modern day “Tamworth Manifesto”, as well as the founding of the London Independence Party.  

Tamworth, by the way, is just off the A5 in Staffordshire. I’ll see you there.

 

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks