Planet London

The drive for devolution to English regions is more than adequately covered in other sections of this issue of DQ. However, what are genuine calls for devolved powers and responsibilities for city regions in the north, can often be seen as an attack on our capital city. Certainly, from my perspective, that is absolutely not the case.

London is one of, if not the, most successful cities in the world. Indeed recently it was given the title ‘most influential world city’ by Forbes, beating places like New York and Paris hands down.

Its recovery from the recession has been driven by determination and hard work – as well as the huge infrastructure resource that it benefits from in terms of government subsidy. As has already been mentioned, London also has Boris, a formidable lobbyist. Before that it had Ken who was even better.

When you visit London, you cannot be other than impressed and energised by the pace, dynamism and excitement that the city exudes. There recently for business and a short weekend break, it was clear to me that I was in a confident place that will continue to grow far faster than not only other parts of the UK, but most parts of the globe too.

It is seen by talented young Brits as the place to head to. It is seen by foreign investors as the place to put their cash. It is seen by Russian billionaires as the place to buy a football team, or failing that property.

For all the chancellor’s talk in recent months of rebalancing the UK economy I just don’t see that happening, and for the north that is not the prize anyway.

We all benefit from London’s wealth, from its growth and from its global influence. We don’t want to stymie that.

What we do rightly demand is that London is not the be all and end all, for just like the UK without Scotland, London without the rest of the UK would be much, much poorer.

Why is it a given that High Speed Rail 2 should start to be constructed in the South East and not the North? Why is it inevitable that the additional airport UK PLC needs should be located in London? Why does London control its own transport strategy whilst the rest of the nation has to follow Whitehall dictat?

It is not London or Londoners, that we who argue for greater powers in our regions, have a problem with. It is those in the corridors of Westminster who seem to believe that we ‘up north’ are best left tendering to our allotments and looking after our whippets, rather than being given the power and resources to shape our own destiny.

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