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.