I have heard it said that London is not just the UK’s political capital, but also it’s centre for economics, media and culture. More than in most other western countries, London dominates the rest of the UK. Our biggest theatrical district is here, as are the BFI and the main TV stations. Thinking about that recently, as fond as I am of this sprawling metropolis, I’m not sure that I like that: why should one city be so dominant over all others in a country? As I discovered yesterday (albeit via youtube) there are towns and cities in the UK which have just been allowed to go to ruin, and that that disparity was probably one of the main factors behind the Brexit vote. It is, of course, unfair that London should get all the attention while other places in the uk are left to fail?
Perhaps I’m as guilty of this as anyone else: after almost a decade living here, I’ve began to tend to think of London as the epicentre of the UK; the place where everything cool happens. But why should that be the case? Why shouldn’t places like Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or indeed stoke be just as culturally significant as London? I’ve also heard it said – by more than one person – that London isn’t really a British city but an international city alongside Paris and New York etc. I certainly see what they mean: there’s an exotic, unique mix of cultures here from all over the world. Yet that exoticism brings with it a differentiation with the rest of the country: international cities, by definition, cannot be said to have one single culture or belong to one nation. London has a different feel to it than the rest of the UK. I daresay that difference, both financial and cultural, is illustrated in the fact that so many people more voted remain in London compared with other parts of the country. If that is the case, though, how might London be reconciled with the rest of the country?
As much as I love this vast, multi-national metropolis, i’m really starting to get the sense that the London-centrism of the powers that be in this country is becoming problematic. London has been allowed to boom while other places have been ignored, and people outside the capital are starting to resent that disparity. London gets all the new buildings, transport projects and sporting and cultural events while everywhere else suffers from lack of investment. Surely it’s time to redress that balance, before even more resentment is provoked.