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 power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Tory whips were anxiously ringing round the “usual suspects” following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip  

Douglas Carswell’s defection reminds us that it's the Tories who have the most to fear from Ukip

Andrew Grice
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone