Blimey

A giant sucking sound can be heard in the UK today: the sound of public money and private wealth being sucked down south to London. The result is the emasculation not just of Scotland, but of Newcastle, Oldham, the Midlands, and countless other places not featured on the Circle line.

The Kelvin MacKenzies of this world would have you believe that the rest of the country is subsidised by the capital. It’s quite the opposite. Stroll around the centre of London: the place is a building site, full of public works. The Thames Tideway. The Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Crossrail, set to be the biggest construction project in Europe. All this building and jobs are being bankrolled by the rest of the country, yet the benefits go to London businesses. At the end of 2011, the IPPR North thinktank totted up all the government’s spending on transport projects up till 2015. Londoners enjoyed public investment of £2,731 per head, far outstripping any other region. The north-east received a measly £5 per head.

Err, yes. That’s because it’s London that has the density of population that makes public transport (especially rail) a useful method of moving people about. The NE not so much: bus is fine for the population densities there. And the “investment” in that turns up, obviously, in the roads budget, not the rail one.

39 comments on “Blimey

  1. Oh there’s a much better way of upsetting northern cnuts than that. London pays for its own infrastructure & your’s as well, i always tell them.

  2. Seemed odd to highlight the argument that London is sucking investment out of the rest of the UK by mention of, and photograph of, Sir Chris Hoy.

    Hoy, and the rest of the Team GB cycling Olympians, all trained and are based at the very swanky, expensive, purpose-built National Cycling Centre in………Manchester.

  3. Hey, if London is such a parasite there is a simple solution – Scottish independence is clearly a half measure. They need to take the North with them. Anyone who believes this tripe can support independence for the London and the Rest of the South-East. Or Roseland perhaps.

    Get rid of the parasites and their damn Channel Tunnel! You have nothing to lose but your PPIs.

    I suggest a border running somewhere near the River Avon.

  4. If they want more public spending they can have all our pro single mums. I don’t mind paying Manchester London rents to take them, if it means more housing in London for people like me.

    Of course unlike me he probably thinks all public spending is good.

  5. London is a state-fuelled clusterfuck. Turn off the State money cannons firing into the City, see how long the magic economy lasts.

    Interesting statistic: expansion of M0 by QE so far: 350%. Expansion of M4: 7%.

    Time to end welfare for bankers.

  6. Tim – don’t forget the railways’ primary purpose when they were made – moving stuff (something they can and do usefully do oop north and could doubtless do even more of given a fraction of the HS2 budget).

    Cuffleyburgers

  7. If you count the population of London properly, something like a third to half the population of the UK – more than half the population of England – lives here. And let’s be honest, we all know most of the rest are failures who just can’t afford to live here, because, after all, this is the one great city in Northern Europe, let alone the UK. Only that small minority who genuinely dislike urban living actually don’t want to live here, rather than being priced-out of the market.

    As odd as it may be to have one of the world’s top half dozen cities in a fairly small country, it’s even more bizarre to then try and destroy it because it causes ‘imbalance’. Of course London fucking causes imbalance – of desire to live in certain places.

  8. The report is rather clever:

    Looking at individual projects, we have focused on those projects that are identified as being of benefit to a particular region (rather than of benefit to the country as a whole).

    So only projects within a region count – like Crossrail. Projects to connect one part of the country to another – HS2 – don’t. It amounts to a complaint that most of the infrastructure spending on local railway travel is going on getting commuters to work in London.

  9. Dave:
    > And let’s be honest, we all know most of the rest are failures who just can’t afford to live here, because, after all, this is the one great city in Northern Europe, let alone the UK.

    Ha. Hahahahahahahaha. Aha.

    London is a miserable shithole full of people who believe the hype that some restaurants and art galleries make it worth putting up with the general awfulness. I’ve travelled quite a bit round the UK, and I’ve yet to find a bit that isn’t nicer than London. In Glasgow and in County Down, I’ve met loads of ex-Londoners, all of whom say they’d never go back.

  10. Now the point I was going to make before I ran into that nonsense.

    Tim,
    > That’s because it’s London that has the density of population that makes public transport (especially rail) a useful method of moving people about.

    I have to take issue with your word “useful” here. Public transport is useful partly because it eases congestion and mainly because lots of people don’t have private transport. For those people, its usefulness is constant regardless of population density. What high population densities such as London’s do is to make public transport efficient, or economically viable. And, surely, the whole point of state spending is that it can fill holes where private investment won’t go. The fact that London has a high population density makes it attractive to private investment and is therefore exactly why state spending should be concentrated elsewhere. Instead, we have successive governments who pour public money into the one place it’s not so needed.

    > The NE not so much: bus is fine for the population densities there. And the “investment” in that turns up, obviously, in the roads budget, not the rail one.

    You’re not seriously suggesting that the North of the UK has a better maintained road network than the South? Or better bus services than London?

  11. Dave

    I go to london a lot, it goes with the job. I love going, love staying over, fuckin’ love leaving it behind when I come home.

  12. Dave-

    The question isn’t whether London has nice things in it. It’s why we have a government economic policy that sucks the life out of the productive economy to subsidise their existence.

    It’s nice for people who are paid by the State to shove money up each others’ arses at ever higher speeds, no doubt. But we’re going to have to go back to actual economic production at some point, so that the people visiting restaurants and art galleries have actually produced some goods and services, rather than just spending all day arse stuffing.

    Kind of thing.

  13. Squander, Ironman>

    You did read the sentence after that, right? I didn’t think it’s a contentious point. We know that less than half the country doesn’t want to live in London because about half of them don’t live in London, and at least some are clearly basing their decisions on economic factors.

    And obviously those who’ve failed always try and paint it as a choice – just like my neighbours in Muswell Hill usually like to pretend they live there for the ‘bohemian vibrancy’ rather than because they can’t afford to live in Hampstead or Highgate. Some people get so invested in the idea that even when they can afford to move they don’t, because that would mean admitting to themselves that they were only living there before due to being less affluent than they’d like.

    Anecdotally, pretty much everyone I was at school with has now left London. They’ve all emigrated; none have moved to other parts of the UK. If you’re going to give up on London, you might as well go somewhere nicer than Oop North. (That sounds like I’m knocking ‘The North’ – not my intention, it’s rather nice compared to many places, but loses out compared to e.g. the Caribbean.)

    Ian>

    “The question isn’t whether London has nice things in it. It’s why we have a government economic policy that sucks the life out of the productive economy to subsidise their existence.”

    No, that’s not a question because economic vampirism’s not a thing. But, ‘life-sucking’ aside, it’s entirely reasonable that in our somewhat redistributive society the government does things that lower the cost of living in London for the lower paid.

  14. @ Squander Two
    The north of England certainly used to have better bus services than London when I lived there. Reliable for one, cheap for two, quicker for three.
    When I lived in Central London I hardly ever took the bus because the tube was better for long distances and walking was quicker (and more reliable) for shorter ones. I tried, once, to take the bus to the office when it was pouring down and I ended up being late for work.

  15. Dave, you missed the point. I’m not talking about redistribution to the lower paid. I’m talking about redistribution to the higher paid.

  16. @SMFS

    “Scottish independence is clearly a half measure. They need to take the North with them.”

    There is only one response to this*: “Fuck off.”

    *Being Northern, I say what I like, and I like what I say.

  17. I posted the above in a bit of a hurry. I wouldn’t want anyone think I was a bit boorish, so I shall rephrase it:

    “Kindly fuck off.”

  18. Yes, public transport makes more sense. But unlike roads in the north, the Londoners aren’t paying the full price. As well as massive capital investment (Crossrail etc), London gets £3.5bn/annum in subsidies for public transport. And according to the Barnett formula is the most subsidised place in England.

  19. SquanderTwo,

    London is a miserable shithole full of people who believe the hype that some restaurants and art galleries make it worth putting up with the general awfulness. I’ve travelled quite a bit round the UK, and I’ve yet to find a bit that isn’t nicer than London. In Glasgow and in County Down, I’ve met loads of ex-Londoners, all of whom say they’d never go back.

    The restaurant thing is only because that’s where the medja are, so they review lots of restaurants there. You can do fine dining everywhere and if you go to a Michelin starred restaurant in Wiltshire or Cumbria, it costs less as you aren’t paying London rents. Even 3* dining can be done outside London.

  20. Tim,

    Absolutely, yes. I live not far from Balloo House, run by one of the best chefs in the UK at prices that Londoners can’t even dream of. And dining out in Glasgow is just wonderful. London’s dining is overrated, which was really my point: I was talking about what Londoners tell themselves, not what actually is.

    john77,
    > The north of England certainly used to have better bus services than London when I lived there.

    What, all of it? If we’re talking about imbalances in state spending, we need to look at rural areas as well as cities.

    That aside, I should maybe have been clearer: London’s buses have far more spent on them by the state than buses in other areas.

    Dave,
    > You did read the sentence after that, right?

    What, this one?

    > Only that small minority who genuinely dislike urban living actually don’t want to live here, rather than being priced-out of the market.

    You did read the bit where I said “Glasgow”, right? You do know that Glasgow is urban, right?

  21. You do know that Glasgow is urban, right?

    Feral post-urban surely? Hence why it was the obvious place to film “World War Z”. (Says me, from its furthest flung suburb!)

  22. “London is a miserable shithole full of people who believe the hype that some restaurants and art galleries make it worth putting up with the general awfulness.”

    Sounds like a non-Lononer’s view of London. Few if any of us go to art galleries apart from immigrant tosspots from the provinces who go through a cultural phase. In the gastronomical wasteland that is the UK, London is the sink hole. It’s restaurants are almost exclusively foreign, eyewateringly expensive & overwhelmingly lousy. it’s a ratio thing. It does have some good ones.. If you find one you cherish it whilst it remains. But of Europe’s cities, the random hit rate for a result is way at the back of the field in amongst the crippled & the lame…

  23. On a moderate tangent, I wonder what the ratio of pointless lefty thinktanks is, London versus the real (ie rest of) UK? I’m sure there must be some of the vermin spawned in Edinburgh and we have this “IPPR North”. But I bet it is above 9:1.

  24. Squander>

    You do realise Glasgow isn’t in England, right?

    That said, it barely counts as urban: it’s a small provincial town in global terms. And even so, you’ve missed my point, which is that people who have failed at life so badly they have to settle for a second class town are of course going to insist that it was a choice. Similarly, of course they all say they don’t want to go back to London, because they can’t – they’ve jumped off the housing ladder and would have to start again near the bottom.

  25. @ Squander Two
    So are you trying to say that you when you said “better” you actually meant “more expensive”?
    I was answering what you actually said because when we are talking about imbalances in state spending we need to consider where more money needs to be spent and my local bus service did not need any state subsidy because the high utilisation rate enabled them to break even with lower fares than London.
    Rural areas – well I had a holiday up north last year and the bus service in rural areas per unit of population seemed quite good compared to London, Quality was certainly better because the bus drivers seemed to want to help passengers (even strangers).

  26. John77>

    I only have experience of rural bus services in one part of the country, but they’re pretty much useless there. In fact they’re so badly scheduled it’s almost funny – nothing before 9am, then two buses in half an hour once they’re too late for commuters to use, and that kind of thing.

    That definitely puts a damper on economic activity, it has to be said. There’s very likely a good case for more subsidy to bus services in at least some rural areas, not that it has anything to do with London’s funding.

    London obviously ought to get more funding in areas where the funding boosts economic activity as a multiplier, because it’s the most cost-effective place to spend the money. But no-one here thinks that cutting one area will see more spent in another, do they? With our system, the two don’t seem to be related.

  27. bloke in spain – “What have you got against Dorset?”

    Nothing. Just not that interested in sheep.

    Bloke Oop North – “There is only one response to this*: “Fuck off.””

    Think of the advantages – Yorkshire could get to field its own international team for instance. We could have another Ashes series!

    Bloke Oop North – ““Kindly fuck off.””

    Don’t worry, we don’t hold it against you. Johnny Foreign has his little ways. I wonder if we could sell the Danelaw back to the Norwegians?

  28. bloke in spain – “Sounds like a non-Lononer’s view of London. Few if any of us go to art galleries apart from immigrant tosspots from the provinces who go through a cultural phase.”

    So you are claiming London is a sh!thole but that the art galleries do not make up for it? When I lived in London, the British Museum was always a great place to take a pretty girl. A cheap but interesting date.

    “In the gastronomical wasteland that is the UK, London is the sink hole. It’s restaurants are almost exclusively foreign, eyewateringly expensive & overwhelmingly lousy. it’s a ratio thing. It does have some good ones.. If you find one you cherish it whilst it remains.”

    I think that London food varies enormously according to how well they are known. I never ate any nice French food there or even Italian. But perhaps that was related to my wallet. But non-European foods are actually surprisingly good. I have eaten some great Korean food in London.

    Dave – “And even so, you’ve missed my point, which is that people who have failed at life so badly they have to settle for a second class town are of course going to insist that it was a choice.”

    I know of a lot of people who have worked in London. Almost without exception they are trying to get out. Some of them move to the commuter belt – much smaller than a second rate town. I used to work with a man who commuted to work from Oxford for instance. Some of them have moved to the Chilterns. Some of them have moved to Europe. Some have moved further afield.

    London really is a first rate sh!thole and there is no reason to live there except if you cannot afford the time or money to go to the Third World and see that all vibrant diversity in its original habitat.

  29. Dave,

    Where does Peter Gabriel live? Kate Bush? JK Rowling? London? No, I don’t think they do, do they? Funny that. Must be because they’re massive failures.

    You see, it’s actually the inverse of what you think. Those people who are talented have the option of not pressing into a tube each morning. London is stuffed full of mediocre people who wouldn’t last a day out in the regions where they could be easily replaced.

    And I know this from experience of working for companies in London and hiring companies in London – I’ve not been impressed by a single company. A couple were OK, but none of them met the standard of companies I’ve dealt with in Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire.

  30. SMFS>

    “Some of them move to the commuter belt – much smaller than a second rate town. I used to work with a man who commuted to work from Oxford for instance. ”

    On the scale we’re talking about, those places are basically part of London. Ask any American, for example, and they’d say Birmingham’s only just too far out to be a suburb.

    Agree with you about the food, though. Anywhere central you’re paying more for the rent than food and staff cost put together, but once you factor that in the food’s pretty good – but a few levels down from what you’d expect for the price anywhere else. Outside Zone 1 there are plenty of good restaurants of all kinds. Plenty of bad ones too.

    ” there is no reason to live there except if you cannot afford the time or money to go to the Third World and see that all vibrant diversity in its original habitat.”

    You think goths and bmxers and crack-whores come from the Third World? Or are you just being our token mad racist again?

    The Stigler>

    You appear to have missed the part about the minority who prefer rural life, because all three of your ‘counter-examples’ are ruralites, which is quite different to failing at life.

  31. Dave – “On the scale we’re talking about, those places are basically part of London. Ask any American, for example, and they’d say Birmingham’s only just too far out to be a suburb.”

    That is probably true. But it is amazing the distances people are willing to commute. The Midlands is not all that unusual in my experience. Neither is Dorset.

    “Agree with you about the food, though. Anywhere central you’re paying more for the rent than food and staff cost put together”

    I think that the customer base has something to do with it too. Too many people with too much money and not enough sense. The restaurant market in London looks odd to me.

    “but once you factor that in the food’s pretty good – but a few levels down from what you’d expect for the price anywhere else. Outside Zone 1 there are plenty of good restaurants of all kinds. Plenty of bad ones too.”

    People are rude about British food all the time. If you get out of Zone One, where is that actually true not just in London but in all of modern Britain? I have not been to the Outer Herbrides lately, so I don’t know about there. Certainly if you want to eat badly you can, but is there anywhere you can’t eat well without too much trouble?

    “You think goths and bmxers and crack-whores come from the Third World? Or are you just being our token mad racist again?”

    Some of them. Especially the crack whores. But you don’t need to live in London to see them. Glasgow has plenty of goths, bmxers and crack-whores too.

  32. Dave – ” Or are you just being our token mad racist again?”

    But I do object to the word “token”!

  33. You can’t get a decent Laksa anywhere in the UK, or a nasi goreng. Took me coming back to Australia to get decent asian (what you would call oriental) food. The curry is alright I suppose.

    And don’t get me started on the coffee. At best all one can get in the UK is an approximation of coffee. You go on an on about why Starbucks doesn’t pay any tax its because its coffee is shit. Costa coffee, I just threw up in my mouth.

    London is great fun for a few days and compared to the rest of Europe it is brilliant, but seriously give me Hong Kong, Singapore, New Orleans or any capital city on the east costs of Oz any day.

  34. Dave, I suspect you are deliberately trying to push a few buttons here, but I’ll respond to you anyway.

    Defining “failure at life” is an entirely subjective and personal view. Your view and my view differ, and that’s fine.

    From my own experience, I live in a nice part of Edinburgh doing a job I like, can be in the city centre within 15 minutes (by car, bus or bike) or can head in the opposite direction and be in the countryside in the same time. For the lifestyle I want then I’m definitely not going to count it as failure.

    I also agree with points above – London is fun to visit or work in for a few days but I couldn’t wait to escape at the end of it.

    And at my previous employer I was always struck by the poor quality of the London staff compared to the regional offices. There were a huge number of seat-fillers who I think were employed simply because it was thought the London office needed to be the biggest. As someone said above, they would have been booted out of the smaller offices pdq.

  35. OO: Chain store coffee is mediocre everywhere, almost by definition, because they’re aiming for uniformity. There are some excellent independent coffee shops in London.

  36. @ Dave
    Of course I can only report on what I have encountered so my sample may be unrepresentative. Also I may be horribly biased because my experience of London buses in the 60s, and 70s was so awful that I have rarely tried since (I did try once in December because the Tfl thingummy repeatedly refused to put money on to my Oyster card so I used my wrinkly card to travel by bus – wtf it was slower than my wrinkly walking).

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