A familiar refrain from all those civic, political and business leaders who have long been calling for action to narrow the North-South divide, such calls are given further credence by a survey undertaken for the Centre for London think-tank. The findings are stark. Though many respondents in the North are proud of their capital city, 75 per cent believe that London does not contribute to their local economy in a positive way.
Conclusions which are also emblematic of national divisions on Brexit, and many other political policies, the accompanying report does explain how London is supporting the English regions, with the museum sector being a prime example. But such tokenism cannot gloss over the extent to which successive governments have appeared, intentionally or otherwise, to pay ‘lip service’ to the North and the importance of issues like skills, transport and digital connectivity.
No wonder public perception of the capital is so unfavourable when Yorkshire – and neighbouring regions – have to lobby so hard for every last penny of funding from Ministers who, by way of example, still pursue a London-first policy when it comes to transport.
This will not change until the Government makes a conscious effort to consider future economic investment decisions from the perspective of the North at the outset of deliberations. For, if they do so, and have the courage to take advantage of cheaper office and labour costs by following Channel 4’s example and relocating more Whitehall departments and quangos to Yorkshire, they will quickly realise that the whole of Britain will benefit if the North has the necessary infrastructure in place to fulfil its potential.
And they will appreciate another adage that is familiar to readers – the best thing about London is the journey back to God’s own county.