The people's republic of London
Tue 01 Jul 2014
This is not another column on Scottish independence. If our brothers north of the boarder decide to march out of our long-established, peace-bearing, prosperity-bringing union under Alex Salmonds big red flag to the tune of The Internationale, bully for them. (If all the bagpipes in England go too, so much the better.) No, this is a column on a different kind of independence, underground as yet, not to be spoken of too loudly, but which could cause a liberty dividend the envy of the world and be an inspiration to millions of others. We mean be an inspiration of London from the millstone known (until September at least) as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. London is practically decoupled as things stand. The average price of a house (363,000) is double the national average and is growing much faster, says Nationwide and thats before you even look at prime London, where the average house is now 1.67 million, according to Marsh & Parsons. It generates 22 per cent of Britains GDP with 13 per cent of its population. It is vastly richer, subsidising the rest of the nation; widely more unequal; welcoming to all-corners; and, in words intended by a UKIP spokesman to damn, educated, cultured and young. Unlike in Scotland, where there has been a real debate as to the merits or otherwise of separation, with some deeply suspicious figures on both sides, the fiscal benefits to London are apparent: let us spend our taxes on Londons roads, schools and hospitals, giving our world-class facilities it needs. And the thought of President Boris Johnson, perhaps with a sash, reciting his oath of office in Latin is enough to give even the grisliest heart a fillip. And yet. For the same reason that we oppose Scottish independence, we would not like to see a barrier erected around the M25, with guardposts manned by Beefeaters. In the three hundred years since Great Britain was formed, it has been a sane geopolitical unit from which all sides have benefited. Without the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, wed have a poorer understanding of capitalism. Without the coal of the North of England, we would not have had the Industrial Revolution which powered our empire. Londons innovations today enrich the rest of the nation, spreading joyfully and for the common good. Were better together.