An interesting piece by Darryl Chamberlain in the Scoop at Snipe argues that the time may be coming when there should be greater indepence for London from the rest of the country. With the devolution settlement being reviewed in Wales and Scotland, why not London as well? The piece points out:
“A question: why can’t London have a bit of what they’re having? Isn’t it time for us to break away too?
London is a wildly different place to the rest of England, never mind the rest of the UK. We’re more socially liberal than the rest of the country, we live in communities that are far more mixed. We’re less likely to drive, and more likely to spend huge amounts of time stuck on public transport. We’ve more in common with New York or Paris than Newcastle or Portsmouth. …
In London, we’re different. …
Look at the two men we’ve elected to run the place. A newt-loving man with a raspy voice who loves winding up American diplomats on one hand, a floppy-haired fop on a bike with a bizarre line in Latin anecdotes on the other.
Both, in their own ways, engaging ambassadors for the capital. And seen as dangerous threats by their own party leaders. Because that is how many in the rest of England see London—as a threat. Read below the line on any comment piece on the possibility of an English parliament, and within the ?rst few comments someone will sound off about how London leeches off the rest of England, takes all the jobs and investment and produces nothing in return.
Yet if London kept the tax revenue earned within its borders—or at least had more control over raising its own budget – we’d be able to make a much better job of running our transport network, for example.
The Tube’s current woes can be traced back to the last government trying to sell off its maintenance — bitterly resisted by Ken Livingstone before he rejoined the Labour Party. He was right, Gordon Brown was wrong – but London had to pick up the bill.
In the old days, Ken used to taunt the Tories with unemployment figures on the roof of the old County Hall. But Labour wouldn?t even give him the power to empty London?s bins, so we still have 33 different recycling policies. And the Conservatives won?t even give Boris Johnson the Royal Parks, so keen is the UK government to hang onto the prestige of chasing dogs out of flower gardens.
So if they don’t trust us, why don’t we just go it alone?”
I have long pointed out the extent to which London subsidises the rest of the UK. Irrespective of the present incumbent of the Mayor’s office, there is a strong case for London having more autonomy and being able to invest its revenues in its own infrastructure and its people. And because London is the engine of the UK economy, this would be good for the rest of the country too.