Sunday 27 October 2013

Should London become an independent city

Like many Londoners I’ve made this great city my adopted home after being born and brought up somewhere else. In my case Birmingham is the city I hail from.

I’m happy to admit, I’m a typically conflicted northerner. This means I’m quite happy to tell you how great my hometown is and how people are friendlier and more down to earth than Londoners; but I don’t actually want to live up there anymore.

I love living in London, it’s exciting, vibrant and interesting - I know I’m living in one the great cities of world and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Whenever I go ‘home’ to visit family and friends I’m always struck by how different everything seems outside of London. At times I feel like I’m in a different country.

This got me thinking. Has London got anything in common with the rest of the UK anymore?

Surely London has more in common with New York or Paris than it does with Manchester or Liverpool.

If London is now so different from the rest of the country, is it time to ask whether London should go it alone, become independent? Scotland is having a referendum next year on independence, isn’t it time London had one?

London dominates the UK and its dominance is increasing. When it comes to business, the economy, politics, the media, property, education London leads the way.

It’s the financial capital of the world, its economy has grown by 12.5% since 2007 and the city has created more jobs in that time than any other region in the UK.

What could London achieve without the burden of subsidising the rest of the country?

By going it alone, London could pursue its own economic and political policies, like raising its own taxes. It would allow London to grow even faster without having to worry about the rest of the UK holding it back.

Admittedly, this all sounds great for London, but what about the rest of the country?

Well there’s no point denying it; to begin with the rest of the country would be worse off without London.

What intrigues me is that perhaps long-term, without London dominating and being the centre of attention, our regional cities would have the chance to emerge out of London’s shadow.

Our cities could reclaim their former glories. Don’t forget, during the Victorian era, our northern cities were some of the richest and most important cities in the world.

It all sounds like a win-win situation for London and the rest of the country, but something tells me it wouldn’t quite work out like this.

London isn’t an island on its own. London drives the rest of the country but much of the talent London attracts isn’t just from overseas but from all corners of the UK.

It might seem like London and the rest of the UK might be living separate lives with little in common but in reality they both need each other.

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