Good news…the economy is bounding ahead and doing better even than it was before the Crash. Except only in London.
It seems that the consistent message from everywhere outside the South-east – that the country’s resources are concentrated on one privileged corner – is being proven to be 100 per cent correct.
So what is the unionist response to the burgeoning success and growing incomes of one section of British society? It’s tricky because at the same time, Scotland is the only other area of the UK showing relative growth and it’s run by the dreaded SNP. Only this week Danny Alexander was telling the Commons that Scotland’s success was down to our membership of the UK, so it can’t be the policies of John Swinney that take the credit, can it? How is it then that unionist economic strategy works so impressively in nationalist-minded Scotland if it fails so obviously in every other region of Britain? Alistair Carmichael says he wants the British government to stop talking macro economics in the referendum and get to down to family budget level so presumably he’ll have a ready answer. Just don’t expect it any time soon.
My guess is that it’s all that subsidy money that bypasses the English counties and shores up Scotland’s feather-bedded public sector. Or words to that effect.
More likely Scotland’s relative improvement is a delicate thing carefully carved out from the advantages of having a regional government with localised powers, including a development agency with an international remit, and real say over spending and strategic planning, exactly the kind of thing impoverished English regions have been demanding. We also benefit from having the political will to secure business development resulting from a government desperate to prove itself and not dependant on a London-centric diktat. In fact, we have the opposite, a government openly at odds with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Put another way, it is vesting political power in an economic region and letting leaders on the ground get on with the job that produces results. Subsidiarity. Devolution and, heaven help us, Independence. That and having a relatively healthy helping of taxpayers money.
London is a success story by any measure and good luck to them. It shows what can be done when the collective will is there, the conditions are right for business, including infrastructure, and the workforce is available.
The first of those, the collective will, is partly the result of virtually every organ of state power being located in the same place. It is a magnet for activity – diplomatic, economic and cultural and creates the critical mass in which business can be sustained. Consider too how the Government went to war with Europe over bankers bonuses to protect the so-called wealth-creators…hideous as that was after the way the bankers helped crash the economy, it showed how big business can harness real political power to its cause.
As for infrastructure, can there be a better-equipped city? Transport alone is a huge part of London’s success, overcrowded as it is. It has Heathrow, Gatwick and an airport in the city itself (not deemed enough, of course), the world’s most comprehensive underground and now Crossrail costing half the entire Scottish government annual budget. Still, don’t London’s top earners deserve all this subsidy (along with London weighting of salaries) as they enjoy the biggest growth in incomes and are now more prosperous since the Crash?
That’s certainly the view of many, that the rest of us should be grateful because without London the country really would be finished. It doesn’t seem to occur to the gilded elite that if we invested our resources differently everyone could benefit from improved growth. I thought that was what Cameron tried to tell us when he got elected – that the country was imbalanced and everybody should suffer the cuts and we were, I think the phrase was, All In It Together.
Like his green agenda, binned in favour obscene subsidies for nuclear, and his respect agenda for Scotland, emptied in favour of ducking out of debating with his opponent, so the rebalancing of Britain is now jettisoned in favour of boasting that the professional classes of the British capital are piling up the cash again. (One result is the clear warning that London house prices are heading for a market boom – again).
Ironically, this probably does play to a unionist agenda in that it confirms their dependence theory. It shows that London is the font of all benefit and everyone else can grub around for crumbs and of course it’s too risky to take a different approach like not feeding the London Beast. That would entail standing up for Scotland and insisting their country should get its fair share, so that we don’t have nearly 30,000 using food banks, £1500 annual energy bills, and no economic gain from the high speed railway to which we will contribute billions.
In their British hero worship do unionists every wonder why Britain has so little of the cohesion that binds together a successful country? Do they approve of state-sponsored free schools with unqualified teachers, the marketization of postal services, the institutional abuse in some hospitals and care homes and now the nauseating campaign to resurrect the reputation of a man who DID swear at the police – not because it is a matter of human rights but because he is one of the same gilded London elite? The Andrew Mitchell affair has turned from a silly vindictive campaign by police against an arrogant politician into a grovelling collective Establishment apology to one of their own. Chief Constables lined up to humiliate themselves in cross-examination? I don’t remember that happening when police were found to be spying on the Stephen Lawrence family. Did we get the heads of the intelligence service into public show trials when Britain paid off – rather let into the courts – detainees we had helped to torture? Just as Britain has one economic rule for London and the South-east, so it has a different code for its London elite. Maybe the Anglo Scots are right…if you can’t beat em…join em.
It’s increasingly clear that, not only will Britain not change anytime soon, but it is going backwards into a Tory retro world of middle class protection and debasement of the poor. For the undecided, at least there is the certainty of knowing what Union means and what, by casting a No vote, they will be endorsing. As Alastair Darling says: It’s not an election, it’s for ever.